Depend is a brand of absorbent, disposable underwear and undergarments for people with urinary or fecal incontinence. The product line was first introduced in 1984. It is a Kimberly-Clark brand, and positions its products as an alternative to typical adult diapers. Depend is the dominant brand of disposable incontinence garments in the United States with a 49.4 share of the market.
The aggressive marketing of this product has been credited in reducing the serious social stigma of incontinence.
Kimberly-Clark has been making Huggies disposable diapers for infants since 1978. In 1984, the Depend products for adults were introduced, pioneering the retail incontinence category in the United States.
Depend was originally test marketed as the Conform brand in Green Bay, WI. The original products begun being made in 1983 and were liners, available in regular and extra absorbencies. They could be worn inside underwear or alone, and were held on by small elastic belts. There were two absorbencies, regular to extra. In 1984, Depend Shields were added for slight incontinence in regular and extra absorbencies. These were intended for moderate to heavy bladder incontinence. Beginning in 1985, fitted briefs for heavy to complete bladder incontinence as well as bowel incontinence were added. The briefs were made in youth, small, medium and large. There were various sizes in terms of packaging as well for all three lines of products. The briefs had a green plastic cover while in the undergarments and shields the green plastic was covered with a thin cloth like cover. In 1987, the undergarments were made in both cloth like non-woven covers and plastic covers. The products were sold in large, cardboard boxes initially.
The padding was originally similar to what had been used for disposable baby diapers like Huggies. In 1988, all Depend products began to use an Absorb-Lock core which turns to a gel when wet as baby diapers began using this as well. In 1992, Depend Briefs were made in two different absorbencies, regular and overnight. The sizes were revamped to youth/small, medium and large. In 1998, Depend added Pull Up Adult Disposable Underwear to their offerings. Initially, this was clothlike and had absorbency down in the middle and was not recommended for night-time use. They had two sizes, medium and large. In 2000, Depend Briefs went through a huge change. They began to be made in white with a very slight green tint. They were still made in regular and night-time absorbencies. Sizes remained the same.
In 1998, 3 dimensional pull-on underwear were introduced and these completely replace adult diaper style 'briefs' that had tape tab closures. They offered consumer a product which fit and looked much more like regular underwear. In 2001, refastenable disposable underwear that was pull up style with a tearable area on each side of the brief and tapes to convert to a tape on disposable brief. These were cloth like but had absorbency all the way up the front and all the way in the back with similar protection and absorbency to the fitted brief that was plastic backed. The other Depend Underwear products became more absorbent in 2005. In 2002, the Depend Booster pad was added as a product to add absorbency to any depend product.
Also that year the Depend shields were phased out due to their other product Poise pads used for slight female incontinence. That year the male guard was added for minor male incontinence. In 2005, the Depend Briefs were renamed. The regular absorbency continued while the overnight absorbency was now called "Maximum Protection".
The product was originally unisex in style; in March 2009, Depend introduced gender-specific adult underwear in the United States and Canada. Depend Underwear for Men and Depend Underwear for Women replaced the existing unisex adult underwear on store shelves nationwide. Also that year the booster pads and undergarment liners were discontinued. Depend now had the Poise pads, male guards, gender specific disposable underwear, refastenable Underwear that remained unisex, and the fitted brief that was unisex. The fitted brief now had one absorbency and was now called "Maximum Protection". They remained plastic backed while the other products kept the cloth like cover they had always had.
In 2012 the company introduced very slender brief-style products, Silhouette for Women and Real Fit for Men, aimed at the Baby Boomer market. Also, the male guards were changed as well. They now had two absorbencies. One is the shield that is very thin for minor drips and intended for simple protection for continent boys and men that drip after using the bathroom. The Depend Guards for Men have more absorbency and are used for slight to moderate surges. Both are designed for brief style underwear. The Men's Underwear began being offered in grey as well as white and eventually only in grey. The women's underwear is now offered in a light tan as well as black. The refastenable Underwear remained the same since it redesigned in 2005. The Maximum Protection brief became cloth-like in the spring of 2016 and the tapes were reduced from 6 to 4, though in the spring of 2017 Depend reverted to the original design. Both the refastenables and Maximum Protection briefs are designed for night-time use; another night-time brief, Night Defense, was introduced in 2016, expressly for women who wet the bed. The Men's and Women's underwear with exception of one of the lines of Women's Underwear are designed for daytime use.
For more than 20 years the principal spokesperson for the product was actress June Allyson, who was inspired to educate the public about incontinence because of her own mother's struggle with the problem. According to Kimberly-Clark, she "did more than any other public figure to encourage and persuade people with incontinence to lead fuller and more active lives."
On March 30, 2009, Depend launched the largest integrated marketing campaign in brand history featuring TV, print, online, direct mail, in-store communication and public relations elements. The TV campaign, created by ad agency JWT, was directed by 2004 Academy Award-winning director Errol Morris.
The product was originally unisex in style; in March 2009, Depend introduced gender-specific adult underwear in the United States and Canada. Depend Underwear for Men and Depend Underwear for Women replaced the existing unisex adult underwear on store shelves nationwide.
In 2012 the company's advertising took a new approach. Previous ads had featured elderly actors with the implication that incontinence did not prevent them from carrying out active lives. The new approach used younger celebrities who were not incontinent but agreed to model the Depend brief-style products for charity. Featured celebrities included actress Lisa Rinna, football player Clay Matthews, hockey player P. J. Stock, and figure skater Isabelle Brasseur.
In 2014, fueled by data showing nearly half the adults who manage bladder leaks and incontinence are under age 50, Depend advertising embraced an active younger market with its "Drop Your Pants for Underawareness" free concert in New York City, headlined by alt/dance group Capital Cities, famous for the hit single "Safe and Sound." To the delight of the audience, fans wearing Depend products joined Capital Cities onstage and danced to the band's song, "Center Stage." A national television campaign also showcased younger adults in Depend briefs "dropping their pants" to promote Underwareness and increase awareness of incontinence and bladder leakage.
In 2016, Depend launch its "Reclaim What Matters" campaign for Depend FIT-FLEX Underwear, the slim profile adult underwear for men and women. The program goal is to inspire and empower people by giving them products that help them regain power over bladder leakage.
In popular culture
American comedian Joan Rivers saw Depend as good material for comedy, and would feign jealousy at June Allyson for being the star of Depend commercials, as in "Hi, I'm June Allyson and right now I'm taking a dump."
- Newman, Andrew Adam (March 28, 2012). "A Young Spin on Incontinence, in Spots Skirting Images of Aging". New York Times. Retrieved 14 May 2012.
- O'Reilly, Terry (8 June 2017). "Now Splinter Free: How Marketing Broke Taboos". CBC Radio One. Pirate Radio. Retrieved 10 June 2017.
- "The Toilet Paper Encyclopedia". Kimberly-Clark. Retrieved 14 May 2012.
- "Company overview". Kimberly-Clark. Retrieved 14 May 2012.
- Wohl, Jessica (December 15, 2008). "Kimberly-Clark revamps Depend line for men, women". Reuters. Retrieved 14 May 2012.
- "Kimberly-Clark Corporation Honors June Allyson And Her Humanitarian Contributions". Kimberly-Clark. July 11, 2006. Retrieved 14 May 2012.
- Media Post: Kimberly-Clark launches largest campaign ever for its Depend brand
- Boston Herald: Filmmaker's ad eyes sensitive topic
- Anderson, Tomika (April 13, 2012). "Lisa Rinna Does Depend Underwear Ad For Charity; Actress Raves About 'Fashionable' New Line". KVIA - ABC7. Retrieved 14 May 2012.[permanent dead link]
- Sorgi, Jay (March 29, 2012). "Packers LB Matthews to wear Depend undergarment in ad". WTMJ-620. Retrieved 14 May 2012.
- Patch, Nick (May 4, 2012). "Stock, Brasseur take hits for Depend ad". The Canadian Press. Metro News. Retrieved 14 May 2012.
- "Year of the Depend Adult Undergarment". New York Times. September 18, 2008. Retrieved 14 May 2012.
- "Saturday Night Live Oops I crapped my pants". Retrieved 3 August 2012.