A new series of Canadian Stayfree ads features different "ideal" boyfriends discussing feminine hygiene. But, while Isaiah Mustafa's ads were charming and original, watching shirtless dudes test out maxi pads is just uncomfortable.
The viral ads, which are shot from the woman's point of view, actually have more in common with Christopher Walken's sketchy SNL character "The Continental". Here we meet Trevor, who loves vacuuming, has a wall full of medical degrees, and inexplicably keeps a maxi pad display on his grand piano:
We walk in on Brad as he's cooking a gourmet dinner (Hey, look! A red stain in a commercial for feminine products!):
Nothing says romance like a candlelit outdoor dinner for two next to a spread of soiled pads!
Ryan loves cats, making toys for underprivileged kids, and discussing uncomfortable "moisture" with new ladyfriends:
The Globe And Mail reports that the ads are already bombing with women. While we appreciate that Stayfree is trying to think outside the "riding a bike through a meadow while wearing white pants" box, the solution to years of horrible period advertising isn't to steal ideas from Porn For Women and Old Spice's successful viral campaign.
Elissa Stein, who co-authored Flow: The Cultural Story of Menstruation with Susan Kim, complains in the Globe And Mail that the ads still use the mysterious blue liquid and never actually name the process of menstruation. The result is a campaign that's "creepy, condescending, and uncomfortable."
Garry Martin Leonard, who teaches advertising at the University of Toronto Scarborough, counters:
They're giving you a two-minute break where you get to be solicited by a shirtless hunk. You hit a home run just because you're there... The men are performing. They're showing off their bodies, skills, accomplishments, grace, elegance and charm, all of the things that women often feel they'll be judged on when they arrive for the date.
Leonard's comments capture the problem with Stayfree's "A Date With..." campaign — it plays on stereotypes about women's fears and desires. Sure the guys are easy on the eyes, but there's nothing new about ads for feminine products that talk down to women. We aren't looking for flirty period innuendo from a sexy man, but ads that don't treat our normal bodily functions like an unmentionable affliction.