Let It Bleed: A Look Back At Period-Related Advertising

Why is it that menstrual products like tampons, pads, and PMS meds are always marketed to us in the campiest way possible? It’s almost as though everyone’s so embarrassed about what periods really are that cheesy-ness, euphemisms, and blue liquid are used as distractions from the fact that vaginas actually, you know, bleed. (To paraphrase Alice Cooper.) Up top is an Australian ad from the ‘80s for Tampax with applicators, starring Naomi Watts, who bemoans all of life’s hassles, particularly “that one you don’t talk about.” But you know how we do: We talk about it...and talk, and talk, and talk. Jeez, you’d think we couldn’t get enough of our periods sometimes. Anyway, after the jump check out the gallery of vintage period commercials and print ads we compiled.

First up is a TV spot from the ‘80s for Always Plus Thin, that has one woman orgasmically exclaiming, “I love thin!”


This ‘80s Always commercial is advertising the latest innovation in menstruation: Wings.

This is actually a modern tampon ad that’s probably one of the best things ever, if only because of the split the cheerleader does, with a full-on crotch shot right in front of the camera. It’s for Playtex Sport. (BTW, what the fuck is a “sport” tampon?)

Here’s some of that blue liquid for you, circa 1997.

Also from 1997, a Midol ad, in which we learn that “some men think strong opinions are a symptom of PMS.”

About 11 years earlier, Midol’s advertising was much more science-y.

Another one from the ‘80s, Premsyn PMS, “for the period before your period before your period.”


Here’s Courtney Cox in a Tampax in 1985.

From 1981, here’s Tampax Plus, with “decorative packaging!”

From 1979, Playtex with deodorant.

This one might be the best of the oldies, since it features the triumvirate of feminine protection ads: Mother, Daughter, and Best Friend.


In this 1981 ad, Brenda Vaccaro managed to land herself a spokesperson deal.

And for shits and giggles, here’s the SNL spoof on “Kotex Classic.”

Check out this vintage Midol print ad:

Illustration for article titled Let It Bleed: A Look Back At Period-Related Advertising

From 1974, the copy reads, “Be the you he likes. Good to be around, any day of the month.”

And lastly, wouldn’t you kill for that futuristic Kotex outfit/box!?

Illustration for article titled Let It Bleed: A Look Back At Period-Related Advertising

Midol: So Your Boyfriend Won’t Dump You [Feministing]
Kotex Gives You Wings [Vintage Ads]



@RabbitRabbit: My mom was dating a guy who had two daughters, one my age, one a little older, and they'd both read Are You There, God.. and had had the facts of life explained to them. I read it and asked them "what's a period?" They'd tell me it's the thing at the end of a sentence and then walk away, giggling.*

I finally asked my mom and after confirming that I really did want to know, artist that she is, she whipped out a giant newsprint pad and a dark green pastel and drew a woman's hips and a 'v' for the crotch and then the uterus and fallopian tubes and proceeded to give me a very clinical, detailed description.

I told her this story years later and she laughed, "Really? I did?"

*I hated those two snotty little girls. Grrrr...