Maybe making a detergent bottle out of stainless steel proved too expensive. The creators of Frey settled on a bottle colored black, not a color typically associated with laundry detergent, and such masculine scents as Oak Musk. Yes, Frey is “Detergent for Men,” an important distinction from male-associated cleaning products, and hopes it will convince not only guys to give Frey a try but the women who love them.
Using male traits and features to communicate to women the strength of a particular cleaning product has long been popular. Think of the Arm & Hammer muscled arm, the bald and brawny Mr. Clean or the hunky, barrel-chested lumberjack face of Brawny paper towels.
In the 1990s, detergent brand Cheer employed a no-nonsense, mustached man to emotionlessly communicate the cleaning power of its product.
In the personal care realm, anyone remember Irish Spring’s colleens who said “Manly yes — but I like it too” and “That’s why I use it too” … or Secret deodorant’s “Strong enough for a man but made for a woman” tagline?
Now we can add Frey to the manly branding fray—although it wasn’t always called that. The brand started as a Kickstarter project in 2014 and was called “Real.”
It quickly reached its funding goal and soon after the launch rebranded as Frey, complete with more sophisticated messaging and higher quality art. The new, less fussy bottle now more prominently touts its “oak and musk” scent.
Frey uses “The Man Detergent” as a handle on social channels including Instagram, where it bills itself as “The detergent that works as hard as you do. Not just for your top pick garments, but also for your most used gym clothes. A proprietary enzyme blend fights tough stains and odors, while preserving your athletic wear.”
Frey’s brand positioning might be what you would expect. A Frey bottle with heavy weights. Frey bottle with whiskey. Frey bottle with boxing gloves. Frey says it is the detergent “that works as hard as you do.” (A note to the Frey brothers: the “works as hard as you do” tagline also has been used by manly brands Chevrolet, Clif energy bars and Carhartt.)
Practically a requirement these days, Frey’s brand also includes a social responsibility component. Urging customers to “stand for something,” the eco-friendly brand says “10% of our profits go to charity,” including such manly charities as the Wounded Warrior Project, the Movember Foundation and The Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation.
It’s also appealing to the sophisticated male (or The Most Interesting Man in the World”) with its sportscar-like bottle shown next to bespoke leather shoes with the hashtag #LiveFrey.
Still, calling itself “The first laundry detergent for men — with a scent and bottle tailored towards men” isn’t quite accurate. Even a perfunctory search reveals, for example, the Distinctive® brand of “washing powder for men” from the UK.
Or how about “Hero Clean,” which presents itself as “Ultra Laundry Detergent for men” that “cleans dirty boys up nice.” And then there is DirtyBoy, “laundry detergent is created by men for men to help men do laundry.”
While critics may call Frey detergent “pointless” that’s clearly not the case. Today’s marketplace is increasingly individualized, with products specific to gender—or gender-neutral, as the case may be. There is male-targeted shower gel to help “dirty boys get clean” so why not detergent for how boys get their dirty clothes clean. Indeed, what is a product aimed at everybody but a product aimed at nobody?