Alan Madill and his team at Toronto agency Good&Ready have spent the past few years sweating the small stuff, and recently revealed the result of their hard (and presumably odour-free) labour: A unisex natural deodorant brand called Nez.
It is the first owned and operated brand from Blended Strategy Group, the L.A.-based creative marketing and communications agency co-founded by Sherry Jhawar, a former top marketer with the lip balm brand EOS, and Allison Statter, lifelong bestie of Kim Kardashian and daughter of music mogul Irving Azoff.
Jhawar had worked closely with Good&Ready co-founders Madill and Terry Drummond when the two were at Juniper Park, the agency that played a pivotal role in turning EOS into a leader in a lip balm category long dominated by giants like Chapstick and Blistex.
She reached out to the pair when they started their agency in 2018, explaining the deodorant product she hoped to launch, and enquiring if they might be interested in helping her get it into armpits across America. “I had worked with Alan and Terry while I was at a previous company and absolutely loved them,” she explains. “I knew Good&Ready was the right partner to help us create this brand from scratch.”
Good&Ready owns an equity stake in Nez, an increasingly common approach taken by agencies working with fledgling companies—incentivizing them to create work that builds brands and moves product.
“When we started Good&Ready, it was of interest for us to have some skin in the game,” says Madill of the approach. “Our success is our clients’ success, and vice versa. We’re interested in our clients’ business and we want to make sure they’re successful.”
Jhawar and Statter launched Blended Strategy Group in 2015, and it offers an array of services including PR, content production, celebrity procurement and influencer marketing for clients including Olly, Tiffany & Co, Johnson & Johnson and Vans.
But Jhawar, who was a part of EOS’ founding team, remained a brand person at heart. A breast cancer survivor, she and many others believe there is a strong link between aluminum deodorant products and breast cancer (as well as Alzheimer’s).
Those claims have been refuted by organizations including the American Cancer Society, the Canadian Cancer Society and National Cancer Institute, yet the natural deodorant category has grown exponentially in recent years as consumers continue to embrace a philosophy of health and wellness.
According to the Nez website, Jhawar’s own health concerns led to her trying every aluminum-free deodorant on the market, yet she was unable to find the right combination of “efficacy and delight.” So, she set out to create her own
“[Jhawar] loved the brand world she was a part of, and wanted to start up a new product,” says Madill. “She also wanted to build a team of like-minded people who wanted to do great work. She just picked the people she loved working with in the past, and brought the team together to make it happen.”
The past three years have been spent in product development, with Jhawar, Statter and the Good&Ready team coming up with the name, package design, and working through a host of technical challenges, such as ensuring the product emerges and retracts smoothly from the container, getting the scents just right, and ensuring the right amount of “glide” over the recesses of people’s armpits (“You don’t want it to pull your armpit hair,” explains Madill).
Like EOS more than a decade earlier, Nez finds itself pitted—quite literally in this case—against numerous challengers. To stand out, it is presenting itself as an occasion-based unisex deodorant, with names and scents related to specific events, such as “Workout Sesh,” “Board Meeting” and “Date Ready.” The products are differently formulated, based on the kind of sweat each occasion produces, and come in two variations: Bright and a smoky blend.
Each product comes in a portable mini-format that can be carried in a purse or coat pocket, with consumers able to mix-and-match to create a three-pack costing US$20. “Deodorant shouldn’t be one size fits all,” says Jhawar. “That’s why Nez comes in a mini format…so you have multiple deodorants for multiple occasions—ready to go with you.”
According to press materials, the brand was created to help everyone find their state of “Nez,” which is described as the feeling you get when everything goes right and everything good is amplified. The marketing is simple and clean, showing the natural ingredients in each the six scents against a white background.
But even without celebrity endorsers, Nez enters a market that appears poised for growth. The global organic deodorant market is expected to grow rapidly in the coming year, fuelled by increased awareness of the potentially harmful effects of aluminum, particularly among females.
Now, Madill, Jhawar and the rest of the Nez team are hoping that all of the sweat equity they’ve put into their product will yield dividends.