About AEF | Newsletter | Site Map | Legal | Advanced Search
Print Version

Boy Wonders
D’Arcy gives maxipad category a gender twist

The answer is yes. They sport underwear beneath those kilts. Even so, the uber-macho technician who operated the fan that lifted the kilts averted his gaze as the gorgeous-guy models feigned modesty.

Can we have a little tact? A little dignity?

Procter & Gamble, a caretaker of such ideals, is putting the men in menstruation in a new $50 million U.S. TV and print campaign for Always maxipads. It’s a bold move for the client, but it’s an idea whose time has come, says Graham Woodall, executive director at D’Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles, New York.

We did not have any trouble convincing [P&G] this was the way to go,” Woodall says. Shot in Sydney, Australia, the 30-second spots, which broke March 15, depict neither product nor consumer. Just a lot of beefcake.

One, for Always Ultra quilted maxis, shows kilted guys dancing to techno music as a female voiceover muses: “Hey guys. …It’s the new quilted pad from Always. Quilted, not kilted.” The men mimic Marilyn Monroe as their pleats twist in the wind.

Another spot shows apparently naked men on the march in tall grass, wearing military helmets and carrying guns. A female voiceover intones, “To protect and to serve.”

The ads can afford to be fun, Woodall says, because feminine-hygiene products have improved so much. According to focus-group research, periods are just a bump in the month,” Woodall says. Hence the tag: “Being a girl just got better.”

Woodall credits Aussie director Daniela Federici, a music video veteran, with maintaining a level of sexiness and humor in the work.

“The storyboards really resonated with me,” Federici says. “I thought I could bring fashion sensibility.”

Woodall wanted a female director from the start when the military theme loomed large with his copywriters, including Susan Olsen, Curt Detweiler and Claudia Mayer.

“We played around with guys in uniform a lot. Cops and stuff,” he says, before paring down to just one spot with military overtones. “If you’re not careful, you end up with stuff looking like The Village People.”

Focus groups uncovered another truth about 18-22-year-old women: They don’t mind eye candy. “Boys are a very dominant theme in the target consumers’ lives,” Woodall muses. “But they consistently stressed that if we were going to use good-looking guys, we had to use them to make a point. Otherwise, they would just feel manipulated.”

In a print ad for Always Multipax, for example, three men of varying musculature are used to represent the different-sized pads in the pack.

For their part, the men suffered for their art. Some took hours of marching lessons from an Australian army major. Others had teenage girls mob them for autographs. Woodall himself endured quizzical stares from the male film crew.

“They thought I’d written everything. It was challenging for all the guys who worked on this,” he says.


Kathleen Sampey, March 27, 2000, ADWEEK

Copyright © 2000 Adweek. All rights reserved.