Depend (undergarment)

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Depend is a brand of absorbent, disposable adult diapers for people with urinary or fecal incontinence. It is made by Kimberly-Clark. The product was first introduced in 1984. It is the dominant brand of disposable incontinence garments in the United States, with a 30.8 share of the market.[1]


Kimberly-Clark has been making Huggies disposable diapers for infants since 1978.[2] In 1984,[1] the Depend products for adults were introduced, pioneering the retail incontinence category in the United States.[3]

The original products were liners, available in regular and extra absorbencies. They could be worn inside underwear or alone, and were held on by small elastic belts. These were intended for moderate to heavy bladder incontinence. There were also fitted briefs for heavy to complete bladder incontinence as well as bowel incontinence.

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.

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.[4]

In 2012 the company introduced very slender brief-style products, Silhouette for Women and Real Fit for Men, aimed at the Baby Boomer market.[1]


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."[5]

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.[6] The TV campaign, created by ad agency JWT, was directed by 2004 Academy Award winning director Errol Morris.[7]

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.[1] Featured celebrities included actress Lisa Rinna,[8] football player Clay Matthews,[9] hockey player P. J. Stock, and figure skater Isabelle Brasseur.[10]

In popular culture[edit]

In the 1996 novel Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace, each year has a corporate sponsor; most of the action takes place in year 8, the "Year of the Depend Adult Undergarment".[11]

In Lil Wayne's song "I'm Me" he raps "The only time I will depend is when I'm 70 years old"

In Blink 182's Cheshire Cat album, one of the songs is titled "Depends".

American comedienne 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."

A Saturday Night Live parody paid homage to Depend in a commercial for a similar adult undergarment they called "Oops! I Crapped My Pants".[12]


  1. ^ a b c d Newman, Andrew Adam (March 28, 2012). "A Young Spin on Incontinence, in Spots Skirting Images of Aging". New York Times. Retrieved 14 May 2012. 
  2. ^ "The Toilet Paper Encyclopedia". Kimberly-Clark. Retrieved 14 May 2012. 
  3. ^ "Company overview". Kimberly-Clark. Retrieved 14 May 2012. 
  4. ^ Wohl, Jessica (December 15, 2008). "Kimberly-Clark revamps Depend line for men, women". Reuters. Retrieved 14 May 2012. 
  5. ^ "Kimberly-Clark Corporation Honors June Allyson And Her Humanitarian Contributions". Kimberly-Clark. July 11, 2006. Retrieved 14 May 2012. 
  6. ^ Media Post: Kimberly-Clark launches largest campaign ever for its Depend brand
  7. ^ Boston Herald: Filmmaker's ad eyes sensitive topic
  8. ^ 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. 
  9. ^ Sorgi, Jay (March 29, 2012). "Packers LB Matthews to wear Depend undergarment in ad". WTMJ-620. Retrieved 14 May 2012. 
  10. ^ Patch, Nick (May 4, 2012). "Stock, Brasseur take hits for Depend ad". The Canadian Press (Metro News). Retrieved 14 May 2012. 
  11. ^ "Year of the Depend Adult Undergarment". New York Times. September 18, 2008. Retrieved 14 May 2012. 
  12. ^ "Saturday Night Live Oops I crapped my pants". Retrieved 3 August 2012. 

External links[edit]