Monday, November 10, 2014

Depends Underwear: a reason to drop my pants?

Depend, the adult diaper folks, brings us a new TV Ad campaign called “Drop Your Pants for Underwareness.” 

Here are the key sound bites.
Sound Bite #1
[Depend is launching]
“A cause to support the over 65 million people who may need Depend underwear.”
     In one of the Ads, Depend Brand Director, Liz Metz, tells us she’s dropping her pants in the name of her father, who has prostate related incontinence.   She invites us to “join the cause” and drop my pants for someone who is important to me.
The Facts     
Incontinence in its different forms is widespread among US adults. Much more common in women the incidence increase with age. Roughly 18 million people have daily urinary incontinence.  Added to the roughly 34 million people who need to urinate with increasing frequency or urgency, it is a big problem that can cause people to curtail activities, socially isolate and suffer depression.
Sound bite #2
“It’s time to bring it out in the open. It’s time to drop your pants for underawareness. “
The Facts    
Incontinence is not something we readily discuss with our doctors. Of all the men and women who experience incontinence unfortunately at least half don’t tell a doctor about it.  In fact, 1 in 4 women over 40 suffer from some type of urinaryincontinence, but most are too embarrassed to talk about it. 

Sound bite #3
“…because wearing a different kind of underwear is no big deal.”
But it’s not the garment we really should be talking about here, is it?

Important facts dropped along with the pants:
What the Depend campaign deftly fails to mention, or even allude to in a tiny print messages, is that Incontinence is a symptom of something.  And that critical message is artfully masked by the focus on outing incontinence, dropping your pants for someone (echoes of ALS bucket challenge here), and asserting yourself by wearing novel briefs.

It really wouldn’t have taken much video scripting time to include an accurate central message about incontinence.  This is - a thorough physical exam is the only way to identify the kind of incontinence a person has and to identify the possible remedies.

One of the reasons that a medical exam is so important is that urinary incontinence can be caused by many different medical problems:
            Overactive bladder muscles
            Damage to nerves that control the bladder from diseases such as mul­tiple sclerosis or Parkinson’s disease
Poor overall health
Diabetes, stroke, high blood pressure, arthritis
Back problems
            Blockage from an enlarged prostate in men
And common medications - diurectics, estrogen, benzodiazepines, tranquilizers, antidepressants, hypnotics, and laxatives.
And there are a fairly long list of possible treatments - controlling fluid intake, bladder training, pelvic floor exercises, biofeedback and medication, lifestyle changes, losing weight, reduced alcohol or caffeine consumption, etc. In severe and very bothersome cases there is surgery.

the adult diaper market (a few years ago I’d trip over those words) has caught up to the baby diaper market in the US.  Adults in the US spend close to $20 billion coping with urinary incontinence per year, and an additional $12.6 billion on urinary urgency and frequency.  Women are the largest consumers (86 percentof total sales in the incontinence market.) 1 in 3 women over the age of 18 suffer from some sort of sensitive bladder or incontinence, but only 1 in 9 actually use a specialty adult incontinence product today. 

With close to 80 million baby boomers currently 65+ it’s the perfect market for products we would never have thought we needed 30 years ago. 316 million adults over 70 years old in the world today (1 in every 3 requires protection) – China being the biggest potential market.

So, I’m ready to drop my pants with the best of them for a cause that advances the public’s understanding of health.

I propose we all drop Depend an email urging them to tweak their message ever so slightly - to do their part to advance the public's understanding of the serious, life disrupting problem. 
“Drop your pants to show support for all those who suffer for incontinence.  It’s time we started talking to our doctors about incontinence ..Oh, and BTW, Depends may be able to help.”