Sell it with a laugh :-)

How to advertise products associated with potentially embarrassing bodily functions? One school of thought is that we shouldn’t take it so seriously. In fact, perhaps better to ‘make light of it’ because humour, even irony, can be a powerful attention grabber. It can also demystify potentially embarrassing but prevalent human conditions. An agency in Toronto, Canada (Think Tank Consumer Promotion) recently applied this theory for the Tena brand incontinence products from SCA. Here’s their fun (and age-friendly) website: www.laughawaywithtena.ca.Tena logo

Last August, They staged a cross-promotional campaign with Volvo Cars of Canada using the tongue-in-cheek tag line “Protecting You. Everywhere,” making an unlikely marketing marriage of urinary shields and cars under the bailiwick of extreme safety. And this month, Tena announced the “Laugh Away With Tena” contest in a partnership with the Just for Laughs comedy festival, encouraging consumers to enjoy life and laugh, without fear of having to change their underwear. There’s a direct link between laughing and incontinence.

Research among Tena’s target consumers, ageing Baby Boomers, prompted a liberal shift in strategy and attitude. “We used to talk to them like an older segment,” she said. “But [Boomers] are so different from what they used to be,” delaying many age-related infirmities through diet and exercise and continuing to engage in active travel and a busy social life. “They are living a younger lifestyle. They do not think of themselves as old, and we as marketers need to be talking to them in a way that is relevant. Tena is amazing because they are not talking to them like old people.”

Also, using levity in ads for Viagra led to winning results and international recognition for Pfizer Inc. In one campaign, the International Language of Viagra, featured characters talking in gibberish to each other (save for the word “Viagra”) in a way that suggested fulfilling sexual experiences.

The lighter tone has helped SCA, the biggest seller of adult incontinence products in the world, outpace Tena’s personal-care segment category in sales growth in Canada, where its market share is nearing 30%.

Humour has always been an effective technique in advertising, so why should it stop at 50? And as the cases above show, if brands have the courage to ‘lighten up’ and talk to the consumer in appealing ways, the rewards are clear.