Wieden + Kennedy’s Newest Spot for Secret Turns the Gender Equation on Its Head

By Patrick Coffee 

Since P&G sent its Secret deodorant brand to Wieden + Kennedy without a review last summer as part of its effort to “cut $500 million annually from the company’s budget for agency and production costs,” the agency’s work has focused on the barriers that women still face in both social and professional settings.

Yes, they are real, and we’re not just talking about the advertising industry. But you knew that.

W+K’s latest work for Secret goes a bit further in broaching a topic that is no longer taboo: gender as a social construct. In case you haven’t heard, mainstream brands have thoroughly embraced the idea that gender norms no longer apply, especially in the minds of younger consumers.


So the theme of “Ladies’ Room” is that all who identify as female now face fewer limits.

As the copy puts it, “there’s no wrong way to be a woman.”

It’s an interesting pivot for a brand that has focused so directly on marketing to  young women. The spot stars “androgynous queer artist” Karis Wilde, and today the LGBT blog Towelroad wrote that it is “clearly meant to address the ongoing and transphobic bathroom controversies springing up around the nation” by placing her in a particularly anxious situation.

The new spot is also in keeping with the “flip the script” theme illustrated by W+K’s last spot, which concerned a proposal that was far more awkward than it needed to be.