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Neutrogena Men warns of the dangers of ‘Junkface’

As men's skincare grows, Johnson & Johnson teams with DDB on new campaign

Men: you may be washing your private parts with the same bar of soap you use on your face… you may have “junkface.” This is the tongue-in-cheek message behind Neutrogena’s newest work for its Neutrogena Men line.

The eight-week national integrated “Campaign to End Junkface,” created by agencies DDB Canada and Tribal Worldwide‘s Toronto office, launched June 26 with J3 responsible for the media buy. The campaign includes 60-second video, pre-roll, online ads, social content, influencer outreach and in-store Junkface Prevention Kits (which presumably have facial cleansing products in them).

The Johnson & Johnson brand even conducted a real online survey — wrangling Ipsos Reid, no less — asking males across Canada to ‘fess up to their, ahem, “bar soap co-mingling.” Apparently, 72% of men engage in the behaviour.

The made-you-look campaign aims to capitalize on growth in the men’s personal care market. Until recently, facial cleansers were seen as a female-only product segment, but now major men’s care players such as Axe have put pressure on the field. Men’s media both high brow (Esquire) to low (Maxim.com) run articles about personal grooming and the importance of moisturizing.

The result? Big brands that had traditionally been in the family or women’s care business (Dove, L’Oréal, Kiehl’s and Nivea, to name a few) now have lines devoted to men.

In theory, that raised level of awareness in the culture is good for every men’s skincare line. In 2013, the men’s grooming category grew 17% in Canada, according to Neutrogena’s numbers.

But the reality is that brands still face a challenge getting men to think skincare is important, or be aware that skincare lines for men even exist, said Ted Lachmansingh, group brand director for Neutrogena Canada. Men’s care still makes up a small part of Neutrogena’s overall business, he said. Their men’s line is mainly facial cleansers, some shaving products and a few moisturizers (the campaign concentrates on cleansers; getting guys to put moisturizer anywhere near their faces is an even bigger uphill battle).

“With men 25-35, we found they were probably more receptive than their parents generation (to the idea of skincare), but they didn’t think about it,” he said. Neutrogena did consumer research that led to the insight that they couldn’t approach selling the line the way they sell to women, who already look for skincare products.

The also reflects the company’s insights that it needs to talk to men the way men talk to each other — by making jokes. “Junk” was a word that qualified as funny, but not out-and-out offensive.

So they have taken the approach of trying to embarrass men into awareness, so to speak.

“If we hold up a mirror to behaviour they engage in, and if it’s a real insight about how men are cleaning their face, they’ll recognize, ‘That is me,’” said Lachmansingh.

Early testing showed it worked. “It was amazing to watch,” he said, adding testers showed the ads to guys from all walks of life, from under-25s to career men in suits. “To a man, you could see them as they watched the creative. They turned beet red and said, ‘Yeah, that’s me.’”

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