Guest blog by Sebas Eikholt
Not all products and services are equally easy to promote. For example, it can be a taboo. People are ashamed of it, become insecure, and it is inappropriate to talk about it. Yet many brands successfully break a taboo. Below are 4 examples of taboo products that have been promoted with a good marketing strategy.
Super size clothing
A clear beauty ideal has been around in the fashion world for years. Men and women are young, handsome and thin. The latter in particular is a requirement. And if a well-known model has legs that are too thick, it will just be photo-shopped away. In the US in particular, many people are overweight. And that is still an unknown market for famous fashion houses. The American company Eloquii is a clothing brand that focuses on fashion for women with a plus size size. The brand does not focus on women with the 'ideal' beauty ideal. However, Eloquii discovered that people on the street did not like to look at billboards with less thin models. Yet the fashion brand managed to reach a large target group.
They did this by entering into a strategic partnership with the famous Hollywood actress Reese Witherspoon. The actress already had experience with her own clothing line at that time and also had a strong opinion about the image of women. Witherspoon personally received many messages from women who appreciated her clothing, but were unable to wear it because of the small size. Eloquii and Witherspoon designed plus size clothing, which gained a lot of name recognition through the thousands of followers that the actress had on Instagram. This made the clothing a much more normal experience.
In 1996 the American politician Bob Dole took on President Bill Clinton during the presidential elections. The war veteran Dole was already in his seventies at the time and positioned himself as the father figure of the Americans. For the pharmaceutical company Pfizer, he was the perfect banner to promote the Viagra erection with a commercial. Bob Dole was diagnosed with prostate cancer in the early 1990s and had experienced erection problems himself.
In advertising Dole said that impotence could have multiple causes and that people needed courage to tackle it as a man. As he himself said in the advertising: "It's a little bit embarrassing to talk about ED (impotence), but it's so important to millions of people and their partners." Moreover, he called on the viewer to have medical examinations carried out when they had problems with erection. Not only was a well-known personality used to promote a product, the theme was broadened and the viewer was encouraged.
Just like the erection problem, it is also difficult to discuss sexually transmitted diseases. The condition is experienced as uncomfortable and is therefore not a good topic of conversation during a family birthday. Yet many people struggle with it. But what makes it especially insidious is that it is a hidden condition. People are reluctant to have the possible STD tested. For example, out of shame or uncertainty. And that is a worrying development that was tackled by the Dutch Testalize.me.
The startup found a partnership with pharmacists and laboratories. Special STD tests have been developed that can be performed anonymously and at home. The message from the brand was that there was now no excuse for not testing. Well-known Youtube vloggers were deployed to the STD test open to discussion among young people. With that, an older target group could eventually be pulled over.
If there is one company that has managed to break a taboo with advertising campaigns, then it is Durex. It has been considered the best-known condo brand for years. But still it is not a product that you can easily put on the counter. What should the neighbors not think when they see that you are checking out different packages of condoms at the drugstore? Durex was able to launch successful advertising campaigns that broke the taboo in a playful way.
For example, a billboard was displayed for a while with a large picture of a baby bed, including a price tag of $ 217. At the bottom of the advertisement was the Durex logo with a $ 2.50 price tag on it. This warns the consumer of the consequences if the product is not purchased. The company also had a special one Durex stickers designed in the form of footsteps. They were stuck to the floor of urinals. One of these footsteps stickers were placed much farther from the urinal and there it said at 'Durex XXL'. A funny message that turned out to be very catchy.