Secret Deodorant’s Guerrilla Campaign Is an Example of Marketing Done Right

How to hijack current news the right way

David Wyld
Sep 29 · 7 min read
Source: Secret Deodorant

It is perhaps the loneliest feeling on the planet. You’re the kicker for an NFL team. The game is on the line. And it’s all up to you! Make the kick, and your team wins. That makes you, yes you, the hero. On the other hand, miss it and your team loses. And yes, that would make you, yes you, the scapegoat. No pressure, kid!

Well, we’ve all seen it happen and maybe several times on a single Sunday afternoon — maybe even within the span of just a few minutes on the Red Zone Channel. The kicker can be the savior of the team and of that game, maybe even of the season. Alternatively, they could be cut 30 minutes after the game, looking for another chance at the big leagues — or maybe a team in the Arena Football League to kick for.

Such is the life of the kicker. And yes, I am the proud parent of an all-state high school kicker in the football hotbed of Louisiana, and we lived the dream during a great run. We even saw him kick the winning field goal in a state playoff game his senior season. However, since Carson has since “retired” from playing college football to concentrate on his academics, we can also say as his parents that we never once got to experience that downside risk of being the parent of the kicker who lost the game! One can only imagine.

However, the reality of life is that you don’t always make every shot — and that’s OK. As the great philosopher Michael Jordan once said about a different sport with different “make” expectations, percentage-wise, as in all aspects of life, you have to be in the game and take your shot at success — sometimes succeeding, and, yes, sometimes failing. That’s reality.

And yet, reality can be cruel for kickers — really, really cruel. Such was the case in the recent game between the New York Giants and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in week three of the 2019 NFL season. Yes, this was a game that will likely, as Abe Lincoln said in a far more serious context, “The world will little note, nor long remember” — well, aside from a few gamblers, of course. Those fans who did pay attention to the game between two teams that have very little likelihood of going to the playoffs this season actually saw a very entertaining game that the Giants won in a thriller, 32–31.

And yet, the most memorable moment of the game for many fans — and yes, those with money on the game — was the final play of the game. The box score for the game will show that Tampa’s rookie kicker, Matt Gay, was successful on four of his five field-goal attempts in the game.

And yes, Tampa’s rookie kicker, Matt Gay, had his own explanation. He tried. He failed. And rightly or wrongly, he took 100% responsibility.

Now Matt Gay may have a long career in the NFL, maybe with Tampa Bay or maybe somewhere else. That happens to everyone in the kicking business eventually, even future Hall of Fame players like Adam Vinatieri — who is still kicking at age 46!

Or he might also be coaching at one of the many kicking camps held around the country to help kids who aspire to be in his kicking shoes someday try and achieve the dream that yes, he has achieved, to make a very good living kicking in the National Football League — at least for a while.

Ah, but we live in an age where publicity is everything. We live in a media culture where people — and companies — can capitalize on the fortunes — or misfortunes — of others to build their name recognition, their brand identity, and, of course, in 2019, their social media following. And sometimes, there is a fine line between what some might consider trolling and what others might see as brilliant guerrilla marketing. This is one of those instances, and I see it as the latter case: a great example of guerrilla marketing done right.

This article looks at the brilliance of the recent advertisement put out in one newspaper by Procter & Gamble for its Secret Deodorant. With one local ad run one time, the company generated a ton of positive buzz — both in traditional and social media — for its product, brilliantly weaving together two major sports stories in a way that reinforced their brand imaging and sent a powerful message to its female customer base. And probably best of all, the kicker at the center of it all really didn’t seem to mind all the fuss and took it all in stride.


Guerrilla Marketing Defined

Guerrilla marketing is a marketing and advertising technique that uses unconventional methods and techniques to promote a product, service and/or organization. Guerrilla marketing relies on unique and unorthodox practices to gain prospective customers’ attention and interest. It is typically interactive in nature and tends to be less costly than typical marketing tactics. It is inspired by guerrilla warfare, in which one side in an armed conflict employs unusual tactics to gain a strategic edge over its rivals (Source: Techopedia — https://www.techopedia.com/definition/23510/guerrilla-marketing).

And so what did the marketing folks at Procter & Gamble do? Well, some very bright people involved with the Secret product line realized that they had an opportunity — likely thanks to someone paying close attention to Twitter, and more than likely, to ESPN. They created what can be regarded as a memorable guerrilla ad campaign that can stand as a case study on just how to do this — and surprisingly, from a Fortune 50 — not even 500 — company.

Carli Lloyd is now a long-standing member of the Women’s World Cup-winning U.S. Women’s National Team, and also a Secret endorser. In the wake of the Women’s World Cup, many opportunities certainly came the way of many of the U.S. stars. And for Carli Lloyd, she had the opportunity to work with the kickers of both her hometown Philadelphia Eagles and the Baltimore Ravens when they were holding a joint practice session. And as happens in 2019, when she was given an opportunity to kick a long field goal and it was posted to social media, well…

…Ms. Lloyd suddenly found herself — and her very realistic pro football prospects — to be a trending topic on social media…and yes, on ESPN!

And so some very creative individuals at P&G combined the very feel-good story of Carli Lloyd perhaps aspiring to be the first female kicker in the NFL and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers kicking woes (including their present kicker, Gay, the team has had 11 kickers over the past eight seasons — which is a very high attrition rate) to be the basis for creating a simple but brilliant ad. The ad ran in a single placement in the local Tampa Bay Times newspaper, and of course, it then took on a second life on social media. With ad copy that was approved by Carli Lloyd herself, the ad looked like this in print:

Source: https://twitter.com/JennaLaineESPN/status/1177219919454322688?s=20

And then online:

Source: Twitter (https://twitter.com/CarliLloyd/status/1176984483007881216?s=20)

It created a ton of media attention on the notion, the ad, the folks involved, and oh yes, Secret Deodorant. In other words, it worked — turning what would have been one of the more obscure pro football results of a regular-season weekend into a memorable — and buzzworthy — ad.

Source: https://twitter.com/JennaLaineESPN/status/1177336298882908162?s=20

Now to Gay’s credit, even though his Tampa Bay team could not hold onto an 18-point lead in the second half of the game, he took the blame — and took the ad in stride as well. In fact, upon being shown the ad by a local reporter, he just shrugged and said:

“It is what it is. I signed up for this job. I knew what I was getting into when I got into it, especially at my position. I mean, that’s the NFL. That’s just what it is.’’ — Matt Gay

Source: https://twitter.com/JennaLaineESPN/status/1177297844270698496?s=20

So here’s to hoping Matt Gay goes on to great success in his kicking career — and with an attitude like his, he will likely rebound and succeed!

Source: https://twitter.com/MarkHarlan_AD/status/1177298292272553984?s=20`

But for all of us who work in the world of branding (and let’s face, in an era of personal branding, we all do), we should be inspired by all aspects of this story. It is guerrilla marketing done right. And for anyone in the world of business, you should share this story with the folks you work with as an example of how a very big company hit a home run with a single ad placement that created a huge win for everyone involved — and yes, even for Matt Gay.

Better Marketing

Advice & case studies

David Wyld

Written by

David Wyld (dwyld@selu.edu) is a Professor of Strategic Management at Southeastern Louisiana University and a Noted Business Consultant and Analyst.

Better Marketing

Advice & case studies

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