Secret deodorant has just launched this ad with the words "There is no wrong way to be a woman", effectively throwing away their thirty year brand history in 30 seconds. Procter and Gamble's tagline “Strong Enough for a Man, Made for a Woman” was created in the early 1970s as second wave feminism made its way into the mainstream. Back when Germaine Greer's book "The Female Eunuch" was on best seller lists worldwide. Honing in on the fact that women still knew that they were a different biological class of people but now fully aware that didn't make us "the weaker sex", the tagline perfectly encapsulated the "separate but equal" zeitgeist of the time. Procter and Gamble researched and created Secret in 1956, specifically for women, and it was the first deodorant marketed exclusively to women. It had minty scents and "freshness" that women consumers asked for. With the "strong enough" line Secret cemented its reign on the throne of women's deodorant, as fit for a feminist college student as well as a suburban housewife.

In 2004 P&G found that the tagline was "dated" so they got rid of it, a move that Kevin Hochman, former marketing director for skin and personal care at P&G North America later admitted was a mistake.

"We thought, women are empowered, and maybe this isn't so relevant. That was a mistake."

Growth slowed to a near standstill, and didn't pick back up again until 2008 when new varieties of "clinical-strength" Secret helped sales but had no long term effect. Finally P&G realized that a "deodorant manifesto" was what they really needed, they once again looked at the brands position in a woman's life. Secret rallied support for attempts by Diana Nyad to swim to Florida from Cuba. Secret launched a lobbying campaign to make women's ski-jumping an Olympic event. Secret launched an anti-bullying campaign called "Mean stinks."

And now Secret are telling the world that there's no wrong way to be a woman, in fact even a man can be one. I suspect that Secret will find themselves needing to re-do their "deodorant manifesto" once again as you can't grow your market by turning off the core fans.

Current media hype loves the idea, but as we know with the media loving or hating an ad campaign, this doesn't always translate to consumers loving or hating the idea. Huffington Posts Queer Voices Deputy Editor calls it groundbreaking: Secret Deodorant Debuts Groundbreaking Transgender Ad, and Queerty says: "Deodorant Ad Perfectly Nails What’s Wrong With The Trans Bathroom Debate", meanwhile I call it a mistake.

Client: Procter & Gamble Principal talent: Karis Wilde plays "Dana" Previous credits includes Lady Gaga's music video/short "'til it happens to you" in 2015 and hooping in Pink's “Raise Your Glass" as well as Scissor Sisters Filthy/Gorgeous Videos. In 2008 Karis appeared in this Satinelle Ice Epilator advert.

about the author

Dabitch Creative Director, CEO, hell-raising sweetheart and editor of Adland. Globetrotting Swede who has lived and worked in New York, London, San Francisco, Amsterdam, Copenhagen and Stockholm.

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