Kimberly-Clark Wants Women to Talk About (and Spend Money on) Menopause

Most women get the "period talk" when they start bleeding once a month, but few receive advice when their periods go away. Or at least that's what Kimberly-Clark is banking on with "Second Talk," a new campaign geared towards women 40 and over who are or will soon be going through menopause.

The line will be folded into Poise — the brand for women with "light bladder leakage" (fun fact: Kimberly-Clark created that term out of thin air because "incontinence" isn't as dainty) — and will offer lubricant for vaginal dryness, panty freshener stickers and feminine wash for odor, and cooling towelettes and roll-on gel to help with hot flashes. All products will be priced under $7.99, which is pretty cheap — except critics say the products aren't really all that necessary.

"I'm thrilled people are paying attention, but I don't want to see people taken advantage of," Dr. Lauren F. Streicher told the AP. She added that products that cover up vaginal odor are actually worse than pointless — they could encourage people to mask and thus ignore potential medical problems without figuring out what's causing the smell in the first place.

But Kimberly-Clark says the campaign and its products are revolutionary because women are dying to talk about menopause but don't know where to turn. "There's not a lot of conversation happening about menopause," said Jay Gottleib, vice president of Kimberly-Clark's North American adult & feminine care business. "Women very much want to have conversations but don't have the forums." Really? There are tons of online forums and communities where women do talk about all sorts of issues — will extra (and potentially unnecessary) products really foster more conversation?

It definitely does seem like Kimberly-Clark put a lot of thought into the new product line. Beginning in 2009, 30 employees — most of them women — began to interview thousands of women across the country (and around the world) about their needs. They were told over and over again that women had three main menopausal issues: vaginal dryess, odor, and hot flashes. They also determined that most women really don't feel comfortable tackling the issue; a point they're combating through advertising.

Kimberly-Clark Wants Women to Talk About (and Spend Money on) Menopause

"There's the big talk about the period. There's no talk about menopause," says a woman in one TV ad. "It's like someone put a hot frying pan on my face," reads a print ad (in reference to hot flashes). An online forum in which women can talk about all things menopause, hosted at "the2ndtalk.com," is forthcoming.

It should be noted that Kimberly-Clark was behind the U by Kotex ads a few years ago that made fun of feminine care ad stereotypes like white-yoga-pants-clad women dancing on beaches, a campaign some of my friends considered obnoxiously meta but that I appreciated. It'll be interesting to see if Poise's new menopause line actually resonate with older women — and whether their products actually help with that frying pan feeling.

'Poise' expands to offer more menopause products [AP]