By Barry Janoff
August 12, 2013: It certainly makes sense for Dove Men+Care to use sports celebrities to talk about unwanted scents. Or, in manly terms, body odor.
Dove Men+Care has officially unveiled a campaign with tennis icon John McEnroe, the latest in a line of athletes who have endorsed the brand.
The move not only supports the brand's first-time official alliance with the ING New York City Marathon, which will take place in November, but also adds substance to a trend that has seen sales of men's grooming products increase over the past several years.
"Men’s grooming tools are among the largest dollar growth drivers in the overall personal care industry and product categories like men’s facial skincare continue to grow at a fast pace," according to a study from research and marketing firm NPD Group, based in New York,
NPD Group's "Men’s Grooming Consumer Report" showed that more than nine in 10 men use some type of grooming product. Facial cleansers (excluding bar soap), facial lotions/moisturizers and lip products "are the most commonly used products among male facial skincare users."
In terms of dollars, consumer research firm Packaged Facts, Rockville, Md., estimates that the worldwide male-specific grooming market will hit $28 billion by next year, up from about $19 billion in 2009.
In the campaign, "How to Fight Irritation," McEnroe talks to all athletes but offers tips specifically targeting runners who will participate in the ING NYC Marathon on Nov. 3, talking about smelling good and preventing underarm irritation.
Maratihon Tip No. 7, for example: "Taking a Water Break." "In order to perform your best, you need to stay hydrated," McEnroe shares as he runs part of the Marathon route with a group of guys. "Drinking water on the go can be challenging. Water stations can be chaotic, so be prepared for anything."
McEnroe takes a drink of water, but doesn't offer any to his running mates . . . except for the last guy, who gets a cup of water splashed in his face. "I didn't mean to do that," McEnroe laughs.
Marathon Tip No. 24 is "Dealing with Distractions." "It's not a sprint. It's a marathon," McEnroe says. "Marathons take focus, and there will be a lot of distractions along the way . . . " Including cow bells, loud music and runners in funny costumes, such as McEnroe dressed as the Statue of Liberty. (See the full spot here.)
An online ad gets right to the point: Next to a shot of McEnroe that shows him yelling, text offers, "John McEnroe's stance on irritation? It stinks!"
In each of the spots, a voiceover relates, "Running has its irritations. Your deodorant shouldn't be one of them," then closes with text supporting the brand as the official deodorant sponsor of the ING NYC Marathon and directs viewers to the Dove Men+Care site for more videos and information.
In targeting men ages 25-54, Dove Men+Care, which was launched by parent company Unilever in 2010, has employed a roster of sports endorsers including Dwyane Wade (pictured), Drew Brees, Albert Pujols, Joe Girardi, Andy Pettitte, Magic Johnson, John Thompson III, Bobby Hurley, Stewart Cink and Davis Love III.
Unilever is a corporate partner of the NCAA, and Dove Men+Care had significant presence during the men's basketball March Madness tournament earlier this year. A multi-platform campaign featured the NBA's Wade and ESPN announcer/analyst Jay Bilas under the umbrella "Real Moments" theme, which supported new Dove Men+Care face and hair products as well as additions to existing personal wash and deodorant/antiperspirant lines.
Sports is not Dove Men+Care's only focus on male consumers. The brand's Mission: Care program unites service men stationed overseas with their families. This past Father's Day, the effort worked with Operation Homefront, a non-profit group that provides financial and other assistance to service members and their families, to bring 300 families together.
McEnroe's on-court demeanor earned him seven men's singles Grand Slam titles, nearly 80 career men's singles win and a reputation as the most irritable player in tennis. Dove Men+Care will play off that attitude in three spots in which McEnroe offers "anti-irritation advice" to men with the tag line, "Tough on sweat, not on skin."
"We want to help men end every-day underarm irritation," Matthew McCarthy, senior director of deodorants/antiperspirants for Unilever. "Dove Men+Care Deodorant is excited to partner with John McEnroe and the ING New York City Marathon to show men they can fight underarm discomfort by providing real care with our clinically proven non-irritant products."