Traditional Brands For Women Go After Men: How Are Their Campaigns Working?

Traditional Brands For Women Go After Men: How Are Their Campaigns Working?

John Elway and other athletes have been pitching products that have typically been marketed toward women.

It’s fall. NFL football is underway, the World Series is on the horizon and the NBA is gearing up for another marathon season. So naturally, brands are bringing out their rosters of favorite celebrity athletes to endorse…skin care products? Weight-loss plans?

Okay, so body washes and calorie-counting may not be the first thing most TV audiences think of when they consider the careers of NFL quarterback legend John Elway or Charles Barkley, the NBA artist formerly known as “the Round Mound of Rebound.” But the marketing specialists at Dove and Weight Watchers hope the sight of Elway and Barkley pitching products not normally associated with men – but airing during major TV sporting events – will stop potential customers in their tracks faster than a blitzing linebacker.

After years of designing products for a predominantly female audience, both Unilever (makers of Dove products) and Weight Watches started targeting men within the last two years. Both companies remain aggressive in 2012 with fresh rounds of marketing campaigns as they continue to seek new revenue streams in a challenging economy. And both have enjoyed a measure of success with those branding efforts.

Unilever owns both the Dove Men+Care and Axe lines of men’s skin/hair care products. But while the Axe brand messaging is decidedly sexy, irreverent and targeting a younger male demographic, Unilever’s Dove+Care “Journey To Comfort” ads feature older talking-head athletes like Elway, Doug Flutie and Shaquille O’Neal easily reminiscing about events in their lives that aren’t necessarily sports-related. Consider it a soft-soap soft sell; the “comfort” part of “Journey To Comfort” refers to the men feeling comfortable in their own skin – skin that is lathered and treated daily with Dove products, of course.

As for Weight Watchers, it isn’t the first weight-loss program to reach out to men via athletes; NutriSystem first started featuring the likes of Dan Marino in ads. But Weight Watchers has a rich history and powerful name recognition within its industry. The Barkley ads play into that by focusing on how Sir Charles finds Weight Watchers to be an easy, user-friendly solution for men looking to drop some pounds.

The payoff for these efforts? A Unilever executive told (

the New York Times that Dove+Care is now a top 10 seller in its category. Meanwhile the investment advice website Seeking Alpha, in a positive review of Weight Watchers stock, says the company saw a double-digit jump in membership among men thanks largely to the Barkley ads.

What do you think of the Dove Men+Care and Weight Watchers for men ads? Please share with us in the Comments section.

Nina B /

1 Comment
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    18 March, 2014 at 9:36 am

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