Former National Football League defensive tackle Tony Siragusa is telling men to put on pads -- and it has nothing to do with football.
The host of the DIY network's "Man Caves" is pitching Depend Guards and Shields in the "Guard Your Manhood" campaign, with TV ads breaking on such networks as ESPN, A&E, USA, Fox News and MSNBC on May 1, along with digital ads on such sites as eHow.com.
It's the first time the Kimberly-Clark Corp. brand has used media advertising to highlight light bladder leakage for men, something the company says afflicts 23 million -- including one in five men over 60 -- a phenomenon far less discussed publicly than the same problem for women.
K-C's Poise broke new ground three years ago with ads from Whoopi Goldberg about light bladder leakage in the "One in Three Like Me" campaign for women. She used humor in sketches depicting mythical stories of bladder leakage among famous women in history. Unlike Ms. Goldberg, Mr. Siragusa isn't saying he has the problem himself, but is using humor and machismo to lighten the subject.
"I'm Tony Siragusa, and I've been around the toughest guys in football," opens the 30-second ad from Ogilvy & Mather , New York. "And now I'm training guys who leak a little to guard their manhood with man-style protection." He shows the owner of a bathroom where the ad is being filmed a miniature "man space" he's built under the sink, though he doesn't directly mention the DIY show.
The ad also directs men to Guardyourmanhood.com, which has quizzes with tips and links to chat online, get free samples or order from retailer sites. Organic is handling digital, Marina Maher Communications PR, OgilvyAction in-store and Mindshare media.
Despite being a common issue caused by such things as prostate cancer and enlargement, diabetes and being overweight, light bladder leakage is something relatively few men buy products for today, said Depend Brand Director Liz Metz.
Only 20% of men who suffer light bladder leakage use any products for it at all, and many who do so use women's products, Ms. Metz said. The rest rely on makeshift solutions such as wadded up paper towels and toilet paper - or simply nothing and change their clothes as needed.
Depend has had the Guards product on the market for years, but without specific media support, and is launching the smaller Shields as part of the new campaign. Both products have been designed or redesigned "to be more masculine."
"Men entering the category are pretty confused," Ms. Metz said. "They don't really understand what solutions are available to them." Mr. Siragusa was chosen because of his masculine image and ability to project "the masculinity and normalcy of the condition and making men know they're not alone in this journey," she said. "He's also known as kind of a straight shooter."
Men who've seen the ads "love them," she said.
She didn't disclose spending on the campaign, but said Depend believes it can add $11 million in annual sales to the adult incontinence market, with sales of $1.4 billion annually, according to Nielsen data from Deutsche Bank.
Category sales were up 5% in the 52 weeks ended March 16, led by K-C's sales up 8% to more than $750 million behind new products and efforts to de-stigmatize the condition and category. Those include the "Great American Try On" campaign on TV, digital and in-store, depicting such celebrities as dance champion Cheryl Burke and football players Wes Welker and DeMarcus Ware trying the products on under their regular garments.