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Anthem’s Kathy Oneto Comments on Degree’s Unisex Ad Campaign

Posted By: SGK March 14, 2013

Unilever’s Degree deodorant launched as a unisex brand nearly a quarter century ago, and in 2005 it split into Degree Men and Degree Women, each with distinct marketing approaches. Now, for the first time, Unilever is promoting both sub-brands in a unified ad campaign. It features famous athletes “crossing over” to train in other sports – an apt metaphor for the barrier-breaking brand.

The New York Times quoted marketers who approved of the campaign’s depiction of sweating as something you can be proud to “earn” in the right situations. But Kathy Oneto, Anthem Worldwide Vice President of Brand Strategy, had additional insights when we asked her about the campaign recently:

On many levels, it's not too surprising to see Degree using the same campaign for men and women. For one, I'm sure most marketers are seeking ways to make their marketing dollars stretch further; finding a common message is one obvious way to do that.

Second, as Unilever notes, the products are made leveraging the same technology and, therefore, the same reason to believe. Finally, if a brand can also find that common motivator or goal orientation across both men and women, then it all comes together.

We've seen Unilever also do this with regard to its Dove line; the company isn't using the same campaign, but it has found synergies. They were able to leverage the Dove's differentiation in moisturizing and make that same attribute and associated benefit relevant to the male consumer. Even better, the company was also able to find a shared insight around accepting one’s true self that can be tailored to each target: for women it’s about real beauty, for men it’s about being comfortable with who they are and being comfortable in their own skin.

What marketers in other categories can learn from these executions is that there very well may be ways to cross the gender divide, which can then strengthen a brand with both genders.

We could add another consideration here: in the same household, men and women often influence each other shop for each other; so the campaign sends the message: “He should try what you use. And now it’s even easier to remember what she uses when she asks you to pick up her deodorant brand.” If perspiration now equals aspiration, it can also imply closeness and collaboration