Courageous confidence

The new TENA #Ageless campaign has a made a bold start.

The 60-second film features older women discussing their attitudes to sex, incontinence and their ‘maturing’ bodies. As Sarah Douglas, CEO, AMV BBDO, explains “We are challenging society’s damaging perceptions around incontinence for women and celebrating all that women are.”

Challenge perceptions of ageing and incontinence it certainly does.

It also challenges perceptions of the TENA brand. This is confident, provocative communication with a real taboo-busting ambition. Alongside honest words on intimacy and incontinence we see TENA underwear worn and not hidden.

It is also good brand strategy. This is a brand purpose relevant to more than seven million women in the UK and core to the role of TENA. Crucially, it builds from established associations of TENA rather than seeking to distance these.

The brand is famously associated what many see as an embarrassing older female problem… carrying a TENA pack in a supermarket basket has an obvious tension with the wish to hide the problem. TENA, therefore, will always struggle to be the most discreet brand choice. As the leader and expert, however, it is uniquely placed to take on the taboo and instil confidence. Normalising the category, of course, normalises buying TENA.

This new campaign’s real and confrontational approach will require a steady nerve and the embracing of a polarised response. Social media comments like those below reveal the film’s impact and the “damaging perceptions” that TENA seeks to challenge. For TENA they should be a vindication and motivation to shout louder.

“How this advert degrades older women is disgraceful! #TENA depicting older women as all being incontinent? The language used is abhorrent! What game are you actually playing here?”

Look I’m not squeamish, but that new TENA ad was uncomfortable viewing with a 19 year old son and his girlfriend.”

Past TENA advertising was certainly less polarising and more comfortable family viewing with happy, active women hiding their problem (and their TENA product). But, TENA’s ambition of attitude change needs a reaction that goes beyond TENA shoppers. It is difficult to imagine past fictional communication (see below) getting these responses from viewers:

“I find this refreshing, honest and beautiful. The new TENA advert is bloody brilliant. Women are brilliant.”

“Just seen this advert for the first time. One of the best adverts about positive #ageing I have seen in a long time.”

Past TENA advertising has made light of the problem with humour or by dramatically demonstrating (see above) that women can be active and happy without risk of discovery from those close to them.

This campaign has launched just as the Coronavirus pandemic has taken hold in Europe. Attention is elsewhere and building momentum for this campaign will be more challenging.

More of the courageous confidence TENA has already shown, and wants to share, may be needed in future months. View the film and judge for yourself:

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