an Ad a Day

A look at the marketing that surrounds us.

U by Kotex: Getting Real with Periods

Posted by Rosepixie on April 27, 2010

If you’ve ever had a period and seen an ad for period products, you probably think they are laughably ridiculous.  They are.  I have no idea who makes those ads or why they think they’re a good idea.  Seriously, people, what is wrong with the whole “feminine hygiene” industry that we can’t even SAY “vagina” or “period” or “blood” or anything else AT ALL in most of these ads?

Apparently Kotex gets it, because they have a totally new approach with their new line called U by Kotex.  Not only are they talking about it, but they’re making fun of the fact that no one else (including themselves) really does otherwise.  Check out some of their great new commercials.

They also did these great “social experiment” ads to show how clueless people are about periods and all things related to them.  They are absolutely fantastic and well worth watching.

It’s just baffling some of the things people say in these videos.  But I have to give U by Kotex major credit for doing all of this.  They have a website full of frank information and discussion, questions and answers, submitted videos and other media from fans and more.

This is an incredible marketing campaign.  It is doing what I haven’t seen a single other campaign relating to anything that goes even near a vagina and is marketed to women do.  This includes birth control methods, whose ads usually don’t even say what the product’s primary purpose is (they focus on things like it making you happy or worry-free or regulating your period or reducing PMS, but rarely actually say anything about preventing conception), yeast infection products (which rarely even say what a yeast infection is and never say where it occurs) and all kinds of period-related products.

This campaign considers women who actually have periods and what it feels like when you’re having one, how varied an experience it can be, and how incredibly ignorant most people are on the topic.  It is definitely trying to sell a product, but it’s doing it by being a little more honest and a lot more real.  How many women actually dance around in white dresses while they’re having their periods?  Not a lot.  And I’ve always wondered about that stupid blue liquid.  It’s not even a useful consistency (unless your blood is blue tinted water, but I’m betting if you pricked your finger and checked you’d find that it isn’t).

Basically, this campaign is making ads making fun of the cultural fear we have of menstruation (which is really nonsensical when you think about it) and, unlike all those ads with perfect women who are still happily doing ballet in white spandex during their periods, U by Kotex is suggesting that it’s ok not to be that way – that you’re perfectly normal if you don’t feel like twirling on the beach in a see-through sun dress when you’re having your period.

And that message of normalcy and it being ok is really important because while there are women who are happy doing those things, there are women who aren’t – and there’s nothing wrong with them.  That’s fine.  Not wanting to wear a bikini even when you have a tampon isn’t weird.  And all the white?  That gets old.  Not wanting to wear white doesn’t suggest you aren’t clean, it just means you’re practical.

But the problem is that we’re discouraged from talking about this stuff – it may be normal and natural, but it’s been deemed “icky” by society so much that it’s seen as more desirable to medically remove ever having a period even if there are problems with doing so for some people than it is to just talk about it openly and make it less scary and mysterious.  And it’s something absolutely not acceptable in mixed company.  How many women do you know who would be willing to openly discuss their periods with a guy?  Even a guy they know well.  I’m guessing not a lot.  And I’m guessing a lot of the guys would rather it stay that way!  But it would probably be healthier for everyone if it didn’t and I, for one, and thrilled that U by Kotex is making a tiny step towards changing it.

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2 Responses to “U by Kotex: Getting Real with Periods”

  1. Eva said

    The ad with the guy asking for advice about what to buy for his girlfriend is pretty awesome. I particularly liked the woman who answered his question about cardboard by saying, “It’s a man’s world. Men make stupid things.” Kinda makes you wonder how many of the designers really considered inserting cardboard tubes into their orifices. 😉

  2. I’ve been following the new Kotex commercials/studies for a while – it’s rather cool to see how awkward-out you can make guys feel when the topic of menstruation or feminine hygiene arises. Although in a way, I see this as Kotex’s way of getting free advertisement and publicity (I mean heck, look at how much coverage there has been over this across the internet through blogs and news entries – at no extra cost to them) stunt, it definitely does bring “awareness” to the subject while filling their accounting books obviously at the same time.

    I’m very glad to see this subject being brought to light though, for both males and females. When I first started my blog last year, it was because I felt as a male, that not all too many of us were interested in learning about menstruation or worse off, was the fact males tend to gather our information from the media and fellow guys. The problem surfaces when the media and general hear-say between guys see menstruation as a very negative thing and out of even my group of guy friends, it is as if nothing good can ever arise from periods. Periods are not only a natural bodily function, it is a beautiful process that guys should truly understand. While we will never experience it or ever be able to 100% sympathize with what women go through, proper education is of utmost importance.

    Seeing Kotex come up with this campaign essentially along the same basis of my own blog-topic really brings joy to my heart! I always wondered if they ever snuck on my blog to steal ideas from there, LOL… but that’s all in jest. However, I wonder what their campaign group is comprised of, whether there is a good portion of male-representation on their team! I really liked the “Help me Choose” one.. I’ve watched it several times and it still cracks me up. I’m not sure who’s more uncomfortable in a “real” situation… the guy or the girl, haha.

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