Genesis of the Piss Pad

Apparently, Whoopi Goldberg is now helping the Kimberly-Clark corporation turn more old growth forests into profits and landfill. According to Advertising Age, Goldberg is peddling piss-pads, a.k.a. “light incontinence products” called Poise, on behalf of K-C.

How did K-C’s bold entrepreneurs invent this wondrous advance in human welfare?

In the usual manner.

First, massive layoffs:

The need to reach the target market with a different type of absorbent-underwear product came out during research with women in focus groups. The introduction comes a couple of weeks after Thomas J. Falk, the chief executive of Kimberly-Clark, announced a reorganization that included the closing of 20 plants and the dismissal of about 10 percent, or 6,000, of the worldwide work force.

Mr. Falk said the reorganization was intended to free money to invest in areas like new products, research into consumer behavior and marketing campaigns.

The principal Kimberly-Clark competitor, Procter & Gamble, has been thriving of late by following just such a path, generating additional consumer interest in otherwise staid product categories with continual rounds of “news” in the form of new products under familiar brand names like Bounty, Charmin and Mr. Clean along with new brands like Febreze and Swiffer.

Next, use of focus groups to find a weakness:

And the reason they don’t want to talk about it is that they associate it, even the young women, with aged incontinence. They immediately say, “Holy cow, I’m doing to be in Depends tomorrow.’ And that’s like one foot in the grave to them.”

K-C also makes Depend, but it’s not for light bladder leakage, which also has many causes besides age.

Women are more likely to have the condition, Mr. Meurer said, if they’ve had hysterectomies or multiple children, if they’re heavier or if they’re athletes, particularly runners and tennis players.

“The marketing task is how do we move [Poise] out of the aged incontinence [mind-set]?” Mr. Meurer said. Realistically, he’s also trying to move it out of the adult incontinence sections of stores, where it sits alongside canes, Depends and orthopedic support products, and instead adjacent to feminine-care products, with K-C has already succeeded in doing at about half of U.S. Stores. [Ad Age, February 10, 2010]

Finally, big spending from the layoff savings/production speed-up, to flatter and manipulate the “targets” into buying more paper underpants:

The idea of an active lifestyle is played up in the ads.

For instance, a print ad proclaims: “This body can follow the beat. Lead the race. Move chairs, sofas. Mountains, too.” A television commercial declares: “It’s wonderful what your body can do if you’ve a mind to let it. Even bladder weakness just takes a bit of Poise.”

The commercial presents a man and woman in their 40’s or 50’s at home, in a romantic dance. At one point, his hand lingers over her derrière – implying that although she is wearing a Poise panty, it is sheer enough to elude detection.

“We wanted to make it a little sexy,” said Terril Smith, a creative director at Ogilvy New York who was the art director on the campaign, working with Alice Whitmore, creative director and copywriter.

“We’re saying: ‘You shouldn’t have to lose the intimacy. It’s discreet enough that he can have his hand on your back. You can still be as active as you want to be,’ ” Ms. Smith said. “People are keeping more active and are wanting to feel they can do more things longer.”

Mr. Meurer didn’t disclose spending, but said the campaign represents by far the biggest marketing outlay in Poise’s 14-year history, and will be worth the spending if the brand can dramatically change the nature — or lack — of conversation about the problem it addresses.

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eugyppius
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eugyppius

Did they just make up that one-in-three stat? Hard to imagine anyone doing a serious study on pseudo-syndromes like this — they had to convene focus groups to fucking discover it after all.

It’s the classic game of the snake-oil salesman — classifying ordinary body operations as illnesses, for which consumer products are the only cure. Piss pads can get right in line with deodorant, breath mints, absolute rafts of nail and hair-care products, and other shit that way too stupid to type up.