The Depend undergarment company has launched a new ad campaign and charity drive called Underwareness (a portmanteau of "underwear" and "awareness"), hoping to reduce the stigma attached to adult incontinence products.
A 30-second commercial, released on YouTube, shows, a handsome, rugged-looking 30- or 40-something man walking confidently down a city street. Heads turn as he passes; then the camera pans out to show that below the waist, he's only wearing Depend underwear. More and more bystanders, also clad in Depend from the waist down, march in solidarity behind him, and by the end of the commercial everybody on that city street, including a police officer on horseback, is wearing a Depend undergarment.
A catchy country-rock guitar riff plays throughout, while the male voice-over says:
It's time to bring it out in the open. It's time to drop your pants for “Underwareness.” A cause to support the over 65 million people who may need Depend underwear. Show them they're not alone, and show off a pair of Depend. Because wearing a different kind of underwear is no big deal. Join us. Support the cause and get a free sample of Depend at Underwareness.com.
People who don't need Depend products are being encouraged to take photos of themselves wearing a Depend garment and post the photos to social media, using the hashtags #DropYourPants and #Underwareness, “to advance the support and education of bladder leakage issues,” as the company's “$3 million pledge” says.
For every such photo and hashtag posted, the company will donate one dollar – up to $3 million in all – to the Simon Foundation for Continence and the United Way.
How successful is this campaign? It launched on Monday, and as of Tuesday afternoon the results were ambiguous. A search on Twitter for posts hashtagged #DropYourPants produced many well-meaning re-tweets of original Depend-company or ad-agency tweets urging people to “Join me! Help Depend donate up to $3 million over the next 3 years,” followed by a link to the Underwareness website.
However, for all the Twitter users happy to help spread word of the campaign, the number actually participating in it seemed quite small. With the exception of corporate PR tweets from Depend or its parent company Kimberly-Clark, only a tiny handful from people posted pictures of themselves in Depends – and most of those photos were basically close-up diaper photos, not full-body pictures clearly showing the wearer's face, as seen in the commercial.