Menstruation has always been marketed as a very personal thing, a magical moment when a woman's uterus whispers sweet nothings captured by a special, pillowy product. Or so the average period-products commercial would have you believe.
However, the NY Times is reporting today that Kotex is finally admitting this is absurdist bullshit, and in an advertisement for their new U by Kotex line, they call out feminine-product marketing for the stupid fluff that it is, poking fun at their own white-yoga-pants advertising of years past and asking, "Why are tampon ads so ridiculous?"
It's a good question. There's certainly something to be said for society's discomfort with — as Carrie's mom shrieked — "the bleeding," which historically has been more comfortably discussed with indirect circumlocutions. In reality, for most women I know, our blessed womanhood is discussed with graphic honesty. Like a support group, really. But television is all too rarely connected to reality, especially when that reality is, like, gross:
Merrie Harris, global business director at JWT [the agency which produced the ads], said that after being informed that it could not use the word vagina in advertising by three broadcast networks, it shot the ad cited above with the actress instead saying "down there," which was rejected by two of the three networks. (Both Ms. Harris and representatives from the brand declined to specify the networks.)
"It's very funny because the whole spot is about censorship," Ms. Harris said. "The whole category has been very euphemistic, or paternalistic even, and we're saying, enough with the euphemisms, and get over it. Tampon is not a dirty word, and neither is vagina."
Well, clearly for broadcast networks, it is a dirty word. God forbid we discuss our fertility — clots and all! — with any degree of sarcasm or, worse, frankness.
It's a little sad that it's taken this long to push an inane envelope, but at least Kotex is trying (even if the networks are resisting). Now, when those ads actually address the smell — you know, that ever-so-subtle whiff you get of your menstruating self, even when wearing tampons both scented and unscented, and which, like your faint late-day b.o., probably no one can smell but you, and you're probably not really smelling anything anyhow, it's all in your head (or is it?!) — then it'll really be time for a standing ovation.