Friday, June 22, 2007


Naturally with a topic like this one I was tempted to reveal something really juicy about myself, but as I began writing all I could think about was deodorant!

Procter & Gamble has a line of women's deodorant called Secret which was first introduced in the mid-fifties, but didn't manifest itself in the form we know it today as until the the late 70s. For years Secret was considered a top-tier product as deodorants/antiperspirants go and always had the catchy tag-line of "strong enough for a man, but made for a woman". That added a touch of exclusivity to let women know that P&G formulated that product with them as the focus, basically saying 'we understand your body chemistry and have something just for you'.

That was back when men were gruff, burly oafs and women were dainty flowers who may sweat from time to time, but hey, we'll never tell! Well, in today's world where men have returned to dandiness and anything vaguely sexist is politically incorrect, P&G ditched the inimitable old marketing message and introduced the "what's your secret?" campaign. This campaign resulted in a series of commercials with mothers and daughters and girlfriends confessing things to one another on national television and in mass distributed print ads. In my opinion (and apparently on Wall Street) this was ridiculous! Why would anyone use their deodorant brand as their safety umbrella for spilling their guts about something?!? "Hey Jan, listen...ummm, well last weekend when you were in Brighton, your boyfriend Mark and I...well..uuuhh. You're not mad though right, I mean, we both use Secret, so it's cool?"

I'm glad that campaign was short lived and with that debacle P&G has tried to get nostalgic to the old 80s message but has updated it (politically corrected it) to "strong like a woman". I hope that works for them. In the meantime though, maybe with the continued emasculation of men in media, perhaps it's time for say Jaguar to pick up the secret torch? I can see it now, a father and son jump into the XKR and head out for a drive to the country manor. Son leans over and says, "hey dad, I have something I need to tell you.....long awkward pause....I'm gay".


Rob Kistner said...

Given this commercial is supposed to reflect male bonding, the father would lean back and say, "Son, don't tell your mother, but so am I."

gautami tripathy said...

Food for thought..:D

megnificent! said...

My brother, who is 12 years older than me, wore Secret in the 70's. We used to make fun of him for it!
He just celebrated his 50th BD. I should have given him a tube for the memories!
I loved the marketing angle. The tagline really sticks, even after all these years. Remember Coke's, "I'd like to teach the world to sing, in perfect harmony"
and remember that commercial, "I can bring home the bacon, fry it up in the pan, and I'll never-never let you, forget you're a man, cause I'm a woman, Enjolie?"
The 70's had some good stuff....

January said...

My husband wears Secret, so maybe it's strong enough for everyone. Hmmm ... and maybe I've just revealed my husband's secret. Oops!

Great post. As someone in marketing, I can appreciate your perspective.

Patois said...

I was always a tad ashamed that I used Secret because I hated their advertising campaigns. (But it really does work for a sweaty soul such as me. Or sweaty pits such as mine.)

lisrobbe said...

I have never used Secret, but I love the secret about the gallery opening and free wine on the box in the picture!