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Whoopi and Poise: Marketing a response to incontinence April 3, 2010

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Whoopi Goldberg has become the face for Poise, which is a product for women suffering from incontinence, or involuntary urinary leakage. The brand has coined the term “light bladder leakage” in order to avoid the stigma of “incontinence,” which is associated with the elderly. Poise, though, is just one of many products targeting the aging baby boomer generation’s problems with “leakage.” Companies like K-C and Tena have contributed to the 17.7 percent jump in ad revenues since 2008 stemming from commercials regarding incontinence. The ads have also produced competition for producing more gender-specific underwear for those suffering from the common bladder problem, rather than the “clinical” or “sterile” looking products of the past.

Obviously, discussing such a taboo subject in advertisements is difficult. To see how Whoopi was used, and how Poise use euphemisms to get around mentioning “incontinence” by name, watch the following ad:

Discussion Questions:

1.  Why is there such a stigma with the word “incontinence”?

2.  Is “light bladder leakage” an effective alternative for “incontinence”? Why, or why not?

3.  What is the strategic importance of Whoopi’s humor in the ad above?

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