Tips on how to successfully market taboo products

Marketing is a challenge in itself, but when it comes to campaigning so-called taboo products such as shapewear, undergarments or even prostate supplements, it can be almost impossible.

The female-hygiene brand, THINX, wanted to place advertisements in the New York subways of their new, innovative underwear for women with periods but they reached a stalemate. Their campaign was a picture of peeled grapefruit with the tagline “Underwear For Women With Periods,” but it was considered to be distasteful and too direct, as it resembled a vagina.

But the more they resisted, the more THINX was ready to push back, coming back with more powerful and direct advertising campaigns.

Thinx banner

Change the focal point with a bold presentation

THINX fought back by being more creative, and turned the attention away from their products and redirected elsewhere. Making them more controversial but in a different direction, such as using a transgender man wearing THINX panties with the tagline “For People With Periods.” THINX finally was able to put their ads up in the New York subways.

This is a great example of how marketing a difficult product by redirecting the attention elsewhere. They didn’t try to shy away from using the word “period” or avoid color tones such as red, purple or pink in their campaigns. They were promoting something new and unique, so the advertising had to be similar.

Learning point: Bold presentation of the honest truth will grab attention of the consumer and using social media to give you a voice when nobody will allow you to be heard.

Be Mr. Smarty pants when it comes to your products brand

Sometimes, certain products have years of bad advertising that has created a prejudice or stereotyping surrounding it, so giving it a complete face lift can be a bit daunting.

One company, Shapermint, recently decided to recreate how we view shapewear. Shapermint is an online marketplace that sells only top-rated shapewear and intimate wear brands. Instead of making shapewear their main focal point, they have redirected the attention promoting body positivity. Shapewear had a bad reputation for decades, but Shapermint tackled the challenge of changing its bad reputation for a more appealing one.

Shapermint had more than $75 million dollars in sales their first year of launching. What was the secret to their success? Their strategy was to educate women as to what shapewear is exactly, how to use, what to wear it with and change how the consumer views shapewear.

Learning point: If you are trying to sell an item that lacks public awareness or a bad reputation, then make your brand the go-to guru that consumers will trust and believe. By educating them about a certain product, you will gain their trust, which means they will most likely buy from you.

Use a touch of humor

Sometimes, a touch of humor can make an already awkward subject seem lighter, even acceptable.

For example, in the past, advertisements dealing with issues such as male incontinence were considered unbearable. But, TENA Men started making campaigns showing that men always want to be in control of the situation. They made a series of commercials using the fictional character called “Sterling Gravitas,” who did everything perfectly such as sinking all the balls on the pool table in one shot or flawlessly parallel parking his Ferrari , but he still accidently urinates.

Another example of using sarcasm to drive home a point was when the UK foundation, Refuge made a campaign about domestic violence called “Don’t Cover It Up.” They made a short video tutorial about how to cover bruises on your face after being a victim of domestic violence. The video was so compelling and helped hundreds of thousands of women speak up against domestic violence.

Learning point: The key to using humor to use the correct dose, not too little or too much.

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