Inside Native Deodorant’s First Ad Campaign, Which Celebrates Saying ‘No’ to the Bad Stuff

The natural products get a bold, upbeat introduction in a new 30-second TV spot

Still from Native
Native's first TV spot shows the word 'no' in a positive light—no parabens, no aluminum and no harmful ingredients. Native

In its first broad base marketing campaign, Native Cosmetics is looking to move beyond cult status and into the mainstream, positioning its aluminum- and paraben-free deodorant as something that works for everyone.

Launched as a direct-to-consumer deodorant brand in 2015, Native quickly gained a dedicated following among environmentally- and health-conscious circles online. Its community is highly engaged with the brand, in constant communication with Native about what they like, don’t like and hope to see in the future.

Earlier this year, for example, Native introduced plastic-free packaging for its deodorant—a project that the brand took on after an overwhelming amount of customer feedback requesting a plastic-free alternative to the traditional plastic applicators.

That strong foundation has allowed the brand to make big moves throughout its five years in existence. In 2017, Procter & Gamble purchased Native, and the brand now offers natural toothpaste, soap and body wash in addition to its deodorant. It’s also expanded its footprint into the physical world of retail, with placement in major stores like Target and Walmart.

To build upon this growth, Native worked with Cincinnati-based agency Curiosity on a nationwide brand marketing campaign aiming to expand its fanbase beyond its current niche to a more mainstream American consumer. And with more consumers than ever interested in sustainable and natural products, the move is likely to pay off.

The new campaign, called “No Is Our Whoa,” speaks to a consumer base that hasn’t yet tried a natural deodorant, but is intrigued by the idea. The 30-second TV spot zeroes in on the product’s effectiveness and lack of harmful ingredients. While “no,” is something we’re hearing a lot these days, the spot’s voiceover admits, the word only represents good things at Native—no parabens, no aluminum. And on top of that, it really does work.

The central idea of the campaign “came about because of where Native is positioned in the natural spectrum of deodorant,” Grace Smith, Native’s retail marketing director, said. If legacy brands like Old Spice and Secret are on one end of the spectrum and ultra niche natural brands are on the other, she said, Native sits somewhere in the middle, pairing the effectiveness of the big brands with the gentle ingredients of the natural alternatives.

To communicate that to consumers, the campaign goes well beyond the TV spot—it’s got an audio activation that’ll run on Spotify and influencer partnerships that capitalize on how saying “no” can bring good things.

“We have this notion that [saying no] is bad, because it must be less than,” Curiosity’s vp of activation Ashley Neel said. “But it’s actually opening up the doors for something better in your life, so we’re letting our influencers tell that story.”

Native is also running digital ads across social media platforms like Pinterest, Snapchat and Instagram, and partnering with Think Dirty, an app that allows consumers to scan the barcode of a product and see a rating that’s based on how clean and safe the product’s ingredients are. Brands that meet a certain threshold can get verified by the app, signaling to users that the product is recommended by Think Dirty.

While Native is looking to reach a broader audience with this campaign, the creative team at Curiosity worked hard to ensure that its personality retained the approachability and connection that has endeared the brand to fans and cultivated such a strong, loyal following. “We want it to feel like that one-to-one conversation so we can really honor the evolution of the brand,” Curiosity’s creative director Katie Gerdes said.

@klundster Kathryn Lundstrom is Adweek's breaking news reporter based in Austin.