Burnett Creates Serial for Secret

Leo Burnett explores the dynamics of a relationship in a serialized campaign that breaks today for Procter & Gamble’s Secret anti-perspirant.

The initial pool of three TV spots follows a man and woman through various life-changing incidents, much like McCann-Erickson’s Taster’s Choice commercials did in the early 1990s. Those spots featured flirtatious neighbors whose encounters centered around the product. Ads in that effort ended in “will they or won’t they?” cliff hangers.

The new work’s positioning is a slight shift from previous work in that the relationship issues presented are humorous and not resolved.

Each spot in Burnett’s Secret series expresses a different emotion in onscreen text, such as discomfort and unease, with the new tagline, “Keep it Secret.” One commercial shows a young couple in their apartment, with the man trying to boost the woman’s confidence about asking for a raise at work. Over a product shot, onscreen text reads, “Nervous? Keep it Secret.” At the spot’s end, the woman reveals she has decided to quit her job and go back to school, with the text, “To be continued.”

Other spots in the series show the woman heading back to art school, where a nude model is a man from her past. Another ad has the model and husband meeting at a showing of the woman’s art.

The new tagline replaces the long-standing “Strong enough for a man, but made for a woman.” Leo Burnett chief creative officer Cheryl Berman said the approach is meant to resonate with today’s woman, who can relate to the effort’s fully drawn characters, but said the previous tag could return.

Prior Secret work by Burnett showed women discussing with their husbands problems such as whether one should tell her boss she is pregnant and go back to work after the birth. Each spot featured different actors.

Berman acknowledged the new campaign’s similarities to the Taster’s Choice work, but said enough time has passed so it won’t seem derivative. She said she was unsure how long the new story line would go on, but noted that relationship dynamics can be very deeply mined. “I think this is a very fruitful area,” she said.

Spending on the campaign was undisclosed. P&G spent about $25 million on Secret last year, per CMR.