Turns Out Marketing is Really the Pits…

Actor Jessica Szohr, "Gossip Girl" and armpit model...
Actor Jessica Szohr, “Gossip Girl” and armpit model…

Here we go again — I caught a headline in the Wall Street Journal that practically gave me whiplash. If you read this blog with any regularity, you’ll know I LOVE to find articles in the WSJ that are waaaayyyy off-topic in relation to the reams of copy written about global stock markets and the paper’s conservative-leaning editorial.

The headline in question? I reproduce it here in the same point-size type as the online article…

Unilever Tackles the Ugly Underarm

Turns out that the market for antiperspirant and deodorant is, in essence, 100% saturated. Oh, these bon mots are just going to keep coming.

What’s a savvy marketer to do? Come up with a new reason for female consumers to switch brands: Re-mediating our unattractive underarms.

Now, lots of R&D, marketing brain power, and multiple focus groups no doubt went into the creation of this campaign to get women to drop their current underarm product and try, “Dove Ultimate Go Sleeveless, which hits U.S. stores this week, (which) claims its formula of specialized moisturizers will give women better-looking underarms in five days. It was inspired by Unilever PLC research that found 93% of women consider their armpits unattractive.”

I, of course, missed out on this poll, and at 93%, I don’t think I would have skewed the results in the opposite direction much, but WHAT THE *&#$?

Who are these women looking in the mirror thinking, “My armpits are SO ugly”? If this isn’t a perfect example of the beauty/skincare industry making a market out of thin air, I don’t know what is.  Because, really, I still have so much time left to devote to my pits after worrying about my crow’s feet, perioral wrinkles, laugh lines, frown lines, gray hair, frizzies, sun damage, rough elbows and knees, calluses, getting a close shave, the occasional pimple, staggeringly bad hair days, my neck looking older than my face, my hands looking older than my neck, and all the products I need apply to my body and face in the morning and before bed to defy gravity. And this is by no means a complete list.

Dove's "Pretty Pits" product will likely fly off the shelves...
Dove’s “Pretty Pits” product will likely fly off the shelves…

What will I do should I actually start using this product and my armpits are suddenly “hot”? Go sleeveless, lean back in my chair a lot, and fold my hands behind my head so these gorgeous stretches of axillary skin can be admired?

The quotes in this story are just comedy gold, people. “We spoke with over 500 women, and almost every one of them thinks that their underarms are unattractive,” says Mike Dwyer, U.S. marketing director for Unilever’s deodorant business, including its Dove, Degree and Axe brands (oh, now here’s a topic for me to hop on a rant about — if you have a teenage boy, you’ve been smacked by Axe). One in three, meanwhile, said they feel more confident when their pits are in good condition, leading Mr. Dwyer to say, “How do we give them that confidence?”

Um, how about we don’t further erode women’s’ self-confidence by telling them they need to add armpit perfection to the list of stuff they have to do to be attractive to a potential mate specifically, and the rest of the judgmental world generally?

I will not go all TMI and tell you what I do and don’t do about my suddenly spotlighted armpits. Instead, we’ll move back into the realm of marketing and say whoever came up with this one is the proverbial goose who is laying golden advertising eggs. To whit..

“With nearly all American adults already using deodorant, driving additional sales gains requires giving shoppers new reasons to spend. ‘If we don’t continue to invent products that improve consumers’ lives, we’ll have trouble growing our business,’ says Kevin Hochman, a marketing director for Procter & Gamble Co.’s female beauty brands, including Secret deodorant.”

They’ve recruited  a celebrity willing to hawk this stuff; absolutely NO surprise with a  generation of celebs for whom truly nothing is embarrassing or private.  “A print ad for Dove’s new deodorant points out that ‘nearly 100% of women’ find their underarms unattractive. In one ad, Gossip Girl actress Jessica Szohr posed in a sleeveless shirt with one arm raised. ‘With Dove, Jessica’s ready to bare those beautiful underarms!’ the caption reads.”

I expect these new products from Dove and Secret to fly off the shelves, especially here in South Florida where our hideous underarms are on display 51 weeks a year (amortized to figure random “cold” days adding up to one week of sweater weather). I guess Steve and I need to brainstorm on the next area of the female body we can demonize and then develop a product to “fix” it.

Alchemy’s Sell Your Sole” cream aimed specifically at the awful wrinkles, scars, visible veins, and calluses that arise from walking on the planet for a few decades? Oh, they’ve already got a product for that. We’ll have to delve deeper — the nape of the neck doesn’t get much attention, does it?

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