July 30, 2017Why Fruit of the Loom is making light of awkward conversations

A spot from Fruit of the Loom claims its breathable underwear is so good that the women who buy it will want to talk about it. But it cautions against making other people feel awkward in a series of skits, which use humour to make viewers feel comfortable instead of cringed out. We explore the insights behind the campaign, and explore why brands are using a range of methods to destigmatise warts and all conversations about the body.

Hannah Callaghan

Acknowledging the hesitance many people feel around openly discussing their bodies – 70% of women feel a stigma exists around periods, for example – Fruit of the Loom teamed up with CP+B to promote its breathable underwear, launching an ad around the many uncomfortable conversations that could be had around a good pair of pants. The spot begins by telling the viewer that breathable underwear from Fruit of the Loom is so incredible that they’ll want to talk about it – before warning them against it. “Telling us your underwear has tiny air holes that makes it more comfortable,” it cautions, “is making the rest of us uncomfortable.”

Using humour lowers the chances of people getting their knickers in a twist

While discussing the many benefits of the product, the team at CP+B noticed they were all getting a little embarrassed. “The more descriptive we got,” says creative director KT Thayer, “the more people who overheard us, the more we worried about having an awkward conversation with HR.” But a growing number of brands are making efforts to destigmatise talking about what happens down below, especially among women – whether it’s urinary incontinence or menstrual bleeding.

While progress has been made for those that still feel shame, humour could offer a sure-fire solution; benign-violation theory suggests that the more violating or offensive a topic, the more likely it is to induce humour. “To the extent you can use humour to change your perspective on things, to see something that is potentially threatening as less threatening, that allows you to be more efficient in your coping,” says Arnie Cann, a professor of psychology at the University of North Carolina. “From a very psychological level, just being able to use humour to change the way you interpret a situation seems very important.” In other words, Fruit of the Loom has used humour to minimise the chance of people getting their knickers in a twist – whether they're breathable or otherwise.

Hannah Callaghan is an account executive at Canvas8, which specialises in behavioural insights and consumer research. When she’s not helping clients navigate the deepest layers of the Canvas8 Library, she’s probably binge-watching RuPaul’s Drag Race or befriending other people’s dogs.

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