What Women Really Think About Tampon Advertising

So, this morning, someone sent us this:

Everyone loves an infographic, right? Well, the Mail, who reported it as though it were news, certainly did

Anyway, it got me thinking about 'sanitary wear', and the way that it's advertised. We already took a look at Tampax's bizarre Mother Nature adverts, but I thought I'd do a little survey, see what everyone else in the dark and murky world of feminine hygiene product advertising was up to. 


Lil-Lets have gone for the 'tampons as sweetie' paradigm in a big way. Their website is a cacophony of pastel colours and little bows that would not look out of place on a Cath Kidson tribute site. With Lil-Lets, it's all about discretion. 'Oh, what? You mean these? Oh, they're just little drawstring bags for my macaroons!' This is their teen range:

I mean, fair enough, right? It's for teenagers. And teenagers are all, like, totally ashamed of their periods. Unfortunately, the patronising marketing doesn't really improve when it's targeted at women: 

It gets worse when we look at this little film on the Lil-Lets website, which explains how their pads work: (now for the SCIENCE BIT)

'Lil-lets pads contain FreshLOCK which wraps around the bacteria and stops them multiplying and odour developing'.

Now ladybros, I must confess that I am no scientist. All I have to my name is a B grade in GCSE biology. But if one of you clever sciency type people could explain how perfume molecules are able to wrap themselves around bacteria, thus containing it in some kind of hygiene bubble, then I'd be really keen to hear that. We all would.

I then came across the site for Lil-Lets South Africa. It seems to centre around being a woman, and all the things that that like, totally entails:

You big bunch of girls.


Kotex, meanwhile, have gone for the empowerment angle. If your stomach is feeling a little delicate, then look away now:

That's the US campaign. Obviously we don't go in for that kind of mushy crap in the UK (ew, feelings) so us girls get 'the only rustle free sanitary wrapper'. 'We women love to share', goes the advert, 'just not with the whole world' Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! (video here)

Personally, I quite like the noisy ripping sound you get when you tear your pad off. It gives me a sense of satisfaction. But I can understand how some women might not like it. If this is you, then you can always sing show tunes while you're doing it. Once I had to pee in a bush near the Eiffel Tower and my friend distracted everyone by singing 'All That Jazz' from Chicago. See? Us laydeez have been developing modesty-protecting measures since time immemorial- do we really need a rustle free wrapper?

It's strange how things seem to have changed so dramatically in the world of period advertising. Back in the nineties, it was all about allowing women to live out their daily lives without their period interfering (the tag line is 'confidently kotex', all to a backing track of saxomaphones. Now it's all about how cringe it is to be menstruating, and how we can minimise the shame.

Paradoxically, though, if you click under 'fun stuff' on the Kotex website, there's a screensaver that you can download. Doesn't seem all that discreet to me. It's also a TRAVESTY that this one never made it across the pond:

Woah, Postmodernist. That is some self-aware shit. 


Meanwhile, in the world of Always, they're plugging (pun intended) something called Actipearls, which appaz stop you smelling like, gross and stuff, and allow you to have a 'happy period'. Meanwhile, this perky lady is having a fabulous time with Always dallies:

Is it just me or does the 'fresh pair of knickers' bit make you feel a bit, I dunno, weird? She just sounds so thrilled about it, like it's the best thing that ever happened to her, or something. 

The Always website is pretty boring. It's not my fave, let's put it that way. The sheer amount of products is mind blowing:

I'm an Always girl. My mum bulk bought them when I was a teenager and now I have enough to last me through to menopause. Speaking of menopause, I was on the website this morning, and it encourages you to select what Always dubs your 'Lifestage'. So, being the happy feminist lady I am, I chose 'fulfilled and experienced' (I've slept with loads of people) but the website was all 'oh, no, this is not for you my friend' :

'You’ve been there, done that and got a few grey hairs to prove it (no one else needs to know that though!). You’re loving life and you’re definitely not going to let anything stop you from loving it even more.

That’s why we’re here to give you the advice you need on the menopause and the answers you’re looking for about sensitive and weak bladders...'

Oops. Better select another Lifestage. So I pick 'Every woman'. Way to make me feel special, Always.  

Here's a little tip from me to you: in ignoring Bon Jovi, you are missing out on a stellar marketing opportunity. It even SOUNDS like the music to an eighties tampon advert. It even has the lyrics 'I'm drowning in the flood'. C'MON PEOPLE. Do I have to do everything around here?


Everyone knows that Bodyform peaked in the 1980s. All together now:



Nowadays they've opted for a much less power-ballady advertising style. They have cutesy website wallpaper and polls such as this

(er, neither), as well as the chance to set up your own 'period calendar'. HURRAH!

Massive Fail

The worst advert ever, however, goes to American brand Playtex. Jesus, what were they thinking?

Fuck you, Playtex.

What is it that we want from a period advert?

For me, it's something non-patronising, that doesn't try to tell me what it's like to 'be a woman' by breaking down what ten people in a focus group said about Kate Middleton into a fucking infographic. For me, it's having red liquid instead of blue liquid, and not telling me I stink, that I can't get shit done when I'm on my period, or that I'm a stroppy harpy. For me, it's something with humour, that doesn't involve the protagonist talking about 'fresh knickers' or 'happy periods' or 'discretion'. It's something like this:

How about you?