Poop is usually not something people want to talk about, smell or step in.
But it doesn’t have to be that way, says Adam Hanft, a brand strategist and the principal of Hanft Projects.
He’s launched a “Poopaganda” campaign, which aims to shift the paradigm from “poop being something you avoid to poop being something you embrace,” said Hanft.
“In other words, giving poop a PR campaign,” he said.
In recent years, there has been increased interest in the role that the gut microbiome plays in a person’s overall health. For example, there is preliminary research that shows a link between certain gut bacteria and serious mental illness.
Venture capitalists also invested $1 billion in U.S. companies working on gut microbiome projects between 2015 and 2020, according to Crunchbase, and some startups offer to analyze stool samples and provide diet recommendations.
“When I look at the marketing and the way they are communicating [about] the elephant in the room, stool collection, stool sample — and you need that to understand the health of the microbiome — that is being overlooked or spoken of in such euphemistic terms,” said Hanft, who serves on the board of 1-800-Flowers.com and Scotts.
He said he is in discussions with microbiome companies about working with them, but he declined to name the businesses. As for what advice he would give them, he said, “If you spent five minutes looking at all the microbiome companies, they all say the same thing, basically, ‘Healthy microbiome gives you wellness benefits; make sure you have one.’ So as categories get more crowded, the need for differentiation is key.”
To reframe how people think about their excrement, Hanft said the key is to celebrate it.
“We all have in our unconscious minds memories of when you were a kid and you were toilet training and your parents would applaud when you went in the toilet,” he said. “And then there are memories that are negative about poop. So what you need to do — this is sort of basic behavioral psychology — is tap into the positive memories of poop, and celebrate them and make the collection of poop not something that is nasty and dirty and disgusting but something you feel good about.”
Hanft sees a model for changing the narrative about poop in the way Betty Ford changed the conversation around the taboo subjects of breast cancer and alcoholism by revealing her own battle with both health problems.
“There are a lot of precursors and poop is the ultimate frontier in that trajectory,” he said. “We got to cross the poop frontier.”
This article originally appeared on PRWeek US.