Tampon Commercials Offend Me

Warning: This post talks about tampons and menstruation. I hope it’s funny. If you’re not interested in taking a chance on a maybe funny post about periods then I will give you another topic to discuss in the comments section: Reality TV is it hilarious or horrific? 

vintage tampon ad

Guess what? I’m a young woman and that means I menstruate. Shocker! It’s really not that big of a deal except it means I’m capable of bringing new life into the world and that’s pretty freaking awesome. Unfortunately, when it comes to periods (and I’m not talking punctuation) people tend to focus on the monthly hemorrhaging that takes places. And yes, that aspect of it is unpleasant. Luckily for women today, we have an entire artillery of products to help make those periods just the slightest bit less unpleasant. One of those products is tampons. Yay tampons! If you’re a woman you know what I’m talking about, if you’re a man then suffice it to say that tampons make things easier for us ladies during visits from “Aunt Flow”.

Actually before I go on my tampon rant- I would like to say that there are like hundreds of ways women refer to their periods and while someone once pointed out to me that there were 3 slang terms for period for every 1 slang term for ejaculation and how that was just another example of society’s anti-woman stance, I have to be honest here, I think they’re lots of fun. Her point of course was that women feel the need to hide their natural bodily functions while men have no such concerns, but for me, it’s more about how thinking of code names for things is fun. I mean, I would much rather say “crimson wave” (Thanks Cher Horowitz!) than “menstruation” but that’s just me. It’s not about shame- it’s about trying to be more clever than everyone else.

So, you’ve probably seen tampon commercials. My guess is you’ve seen a lot of them. I know I have. And while I have always found them ridiculous, it wasn’t until recently that they started offending me. Not because they are almost all campy, unrealistic, and feature only thin and peppy young women (apparently they are the only ones entitled to “Happy periods”), but because they insult my intelligence. I mean, I’ve had my period for over a decade now. I’ve pretty much got it figured out, I know which products I like and which products I don’t. Sure, I’m willing to try something new, but you have to give me some real qualifiable information to convince me. And that is something all tampon commercials are short on- information. It’s lots of cheerleaders doing splits, and girls in white running through meadows, and most recently, snarky brunettes calling those other commercials ridiculous while being only slightly less ridiculous (Finally- a tampon that comes in box with an edgy design- *that’s* what I’ve been waiting for!). What I don’t hear much of is what those tampons will actually do for me. Is it more absorbant? It is less likely to give me toxic shock syndrome if I leave it in for more than 8 hours? Will it make me more qualified to recommend myself to strangers? Will it make all my PMS symptoms disappear? Will it enable me to become invisible? Seriously. These are questions that need answers. I need information. I need facts. I need science.

Apparently, facts and science is exactly the opposite of what tampon commercials think women understand or respond to. And that’s insulting. Listen, I know lots of market research goes into creating these commercials, so I’m sure the commercials were made with every intention of being most appealing to the targeted consumer, you know, women who menstruate, but I have to wonder what options were given for consideration. I mean, if asked to choose between a black box and a pink box, I would probably choose the black box. But if you told me that the black box was filled with the same old tampons and the pink box was filled with new and improved tampons that are more absorbant, more comfortable, and would do my laundry for me, then I would absolutely choose the pink box. It’s in the details people- it all about information.

Yeah– that’s right tampon advertisers, I want information. And I understand it. And I make most of my decisions based on solid amounts of it. In your face! Now, please stop making tampon commercials like this:

You see, you’re making fun of tampon commercials in a tampon commercial but you still didn’t tell me anything about your “new” tampons. All you showed me was a snarky brunette and your new “edgier” box design.I do very much appreciate your point about the blue liquid (because that’s ridiculous) but I also noticed you didn’t offer up any images of red liquid….so….not good enough Kotex. Not good enough.

Am I right, ladies?

63 thoughts on “Tampon Commercials Offend Me

  1. I personally hate those new u by kotex ones – they say that we’re ashamed of our periods and have the girl talking about carrying her purse to the bathroom. But the whole line is about being small enough to not notice. WTF!

  2. It’s all tampons and Muppets with you eh? Kidding. I know you like to read books too. As for me, well, there are two types of men–those that have made tampon runs and those that haven’t. Not really sure where the analogy goes from there though.

  3. So I have to tell something about this commercial: What the Hell is goin ?! Having makes me feel like I want to dance ? Is at supposed to speak to teenagers ?
    I don’t know for you but my first period and for such long years, just gave me such awfull painfull aches. Sometimes, very often even, I couldn’t even get up, I had to stay in bed.
    Me too, I want to see red liquid instead of the blue one or at least a pink one ? I like when commercial actually talk to me about the product not about the feeling to having the period… Commercial who buy the way was created by men who do not have any ideas of this feeling.
    In France, whe even have a commercial about tampons or whatever where you don’t even see a woman in it but just a men talking about his “Nana” (woman). And of course, we just have one packaging at the end to understand what was about the film !

  4. i hate those tampon commercials and those smaller applicators i find really annoying!! i guess there’s no more advancements to be made on the actual tampon – so the entertainment begins!!

  5. They should get a camera crew to my house asap for a reality commercial for tampons. My woman problems started this week, which means I’m engaged in the Very Important Task of drinking a dirty martini and eating orange Pims while watching hour after hour of reality television (Housewives of Atlanta? Horrific. Won’t even watch the commercials. Housewives of Beverly Hills? Hilarious.)

    Sing it, sister. I pick up what you’re layin’ down. Any chance you want to take on Summer’s Eve next?

    1. Oh yeah. Summer’s Eve is totally on blast next. And I would totally buy tampons that used a commercial with someone drinking martinis, eating orange pims, and watching reality TV. Now *that’s* something I can relate to.

  6. lifeandothermisadventures says:

    Personally, I am a huge fan of the Diva Cup and also use reusable cloth pads. It takes some getting used to but it’s so much less expensive. I think that I vote with my wallet and I do not want to give those annoying-commercial-producing companies my money. 🙂 Plus, I’m a little bit sketched out by what kinds of chemicals lurk in tampons. I’m not an alarmist kind of gal, but prefer to err on the safe side.

  7. Reality TV = horrific.

    I don’t know why people get “uncomfortable” with speaking plainly in commercials about stuff like this. Criminy, given what’s on TV in general now days it seems really stupid to talk “around” certain subjects like they do. You wouldn’t have to be graphic about it or anything… just be straight forward.

    And now, some herstory….

    The Tampon was originally developed in 1645, by Sir Reginald Stemphlough, Second Earl of Tampon. Actually, its modern usage is due to Sir Reginald’s original invention being hijacked by his first Wife, the Lady Scarlet Stemphlough. Sir Reginald originally developed “The Tampon” as a way for Her Majesty’s troops to reload their muskets faster on the battlefield, and believed that the invention bearing his name would bring him great honor and prestige at Court. Finally, he would have something to shut the mouth of that intolerable braggart the Earl of Sandwich!!…..

    In a bizarre series of events that involved Sir Reginald being caught by Lady Scarlet in a compromising situation with a Scullery Maid and a large quantity of butter, Lady Scarlet and Sir Reginald were divorced. Sir Reggie got the castle and the hunting lodge. Lady Scarlet got rights to “The Tampon” and all the good dinnerware. Her modified version of Sir Reginald’s invention – oddly, still bearing his name – was unveiled the following spring at the Grand Ball in London.

    True Story.

  8. If these are offensive to you (and I do agree with you on this) how about the commercials for the, *ahem*, feminine hygiene wash? Those offend me even more due to their sheer ridiculousness! Advertisers really must think we women are stupid…

  9. ninjafromspace says:

    That was so funny to read, and I agreed with every word. 🙂 Once again, you`ve made my day. Well done, GotC.

  10. Hooray for Clueless references! The Kotex commercials actually make me laugh, but I don’t know if I’m laughing for the reasons they intended. Are you willing to accept more information if it still involves blue liquid?

  11. Where marketing is concerned – I think you are looking at it the wrong way. These are meant to target the newbies not us. They are meant to target the anxty pre-teen who hasn’t learned and become dihard loyal to a brand (like most of us are). Is it still insulting? of course. But you don’t realise that until you are in your 20’s and using the shit that offended you.

    But other than that, I totally agree. Where I am in my life and with my periods – a black box and snarky brunette isn’t going to do it for me, nor is the peppey cheerleader, the silly boy who thinks my tampon is candy (like wtf people) or anything else silly and irrelivant. It’s going to come from personal use, and word of mouth.

      1. yes, but you purchase from experience. they want to hook the new crowd to launch the business forward. they already know getting into your purse is a hard job – so go for the solution that will pay off immediately and in longevity.

  12. I think that’s the first commercial I’ve ever actually LIKED. I thought it was funny! All the rest suck ass. Especially when you’re watching regular old TV and your (then) 8-year-old asks what that shit is.

    Oh honey, Mommy has blood coming out of her secret place once a month and this is how she curbs the flow.


    See? No commercials needed.

  13. My old roommate Erin HATES tampon commercials. She too believed that they were bullshit LOL b/c they always have blue liquid, or show women “using tampons” and water skiing, like that happens! I agree with her on that one lol

  14. I’ve never understood why they tell us the exact liter that the pad can hold. I’m pretty saavy but have no idea the liters of my flow. I prefer using phrases like ‘I bleed like a gut-shot mule.’ But that would look ugly on the pretty pink box I suppose.
    Fav menstrual euphemism: I have entered the time of sin and shame. Don’t worry- I got that from a friend- my Mother is unable to refer to it at all.

    1. Haha! I like that euphemism. And yeah, who actually knows how many liters they bleed each month? It’s like “Oh. I bleed 3 liters during my period so those 1 liter pad just simply won’t do.”

  15. I’m to deep into the red sea to not cry a little while reading your post. Maybe I’ll come back later after I finish eating my apple pie ala mode and try comennting again.

  16. While the old tampon ads may have made men uncomfortable, these new ads are telling them that women are idiots.

    If a woman was involved in developing that commercial, she needs to hand her double xx chromosome card back. Either she overdid it on her meds or she was part of a focus group of 10 year olds.

    You are right. They are wrong. I have spoken. 🙂

  17. I’ve always thought the blue liquid thing was ridiculous.

    I haven’t had a TV in years, but I do remember ads for ob tampons back in the day that gave information about how they expanded wide instead of long. Do those still exist?

    1. I’m not sure. I haven’t seen a commercial for them that I can remember but I think it speaks volumes that you remember the information given in that commercial more than the pretty models selling them. Take note advertisers!

  18. At least you have tampons! In India most privileged girls still use sanitary napkins and don’t even know what tampons are. And then there are thousands of girls and women too poor to buy pads and just survive on cloth! I would buy that product with would distribute free tampons/pads to the many underprivileged girls living in insanitary conditions for ever pack bought. Maybe it’s time for heart and humanity in the facts and science..

  19. A Frog at Large says:

    That was a terrible advert, and I agree with all you’ve said! What I’d REALLY like to see though, is an advert on mooncups. That would be even more of a challenge for those male executives.

  20. hkleczewski says:

    I love this post. Those commercials are so ridiculous. I really want to see a girl in sweats sitting in front of the TV with a bowl of ice cream telling me about the “factory specs” of her tampon. I’ll believe that commercial.

  21. Not to defend the indefensible, but it’s only been very recently that there’s been any kind of mass-market advertising for “feminine products” (as if products themselves have a gender!). The advertising industry just didn’t allow more than a narrow little fine-print ad buried in the back pages of “Ladies Home Journal.” It just wasn’t done. Think of the ad men on “Mad Men.”

    That said, the blue liquid is stupider than hell and an insult to one’s intelligence. Just my .02 –

    1. That’s true- the product advertisements used to be relegated to small print so in that sense, progress has been made, but holy Athena, I sure could use some more of it.

      And oh yeah, the blue liquid kills me.

  22. If they want to market the strength of their tampon, they should market it from a different angle. The commercials wouldn’t be some girl on a trampoline, doing the splits and smiling. It would be some chick, stuffing her face with ho hos and twinkies, crouched in a corner in a snuggie, alternating between fits of inane laughter and crying rage. I want a tampon that can handle that.

    1. I would buy the hell out of that tampon- especially if while they showed those images they said things like “more comfortable fit”, “more absorbant”, and “can also be used as a calculator”.

      1. I would happily agree to offer some marketing researchers feedback for this kind of tampon. Maybe a good incentive would be to partner with Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and offer coupons inside tampon boxes. “Buy the pink box & get your pint of Chunky Monkey half off!” Someone quote me on this – I said it first! Tampons and ice cream, UNITE!

  23. I have long despised sanitary napkin commercials for their unrealistic view of a period. I swore they were all made by men who have no conception of the actual process of menstruating and how uncomfortable a period can be. To think that any product can give you a monthly “happy time” is absurd and truly offended me.

    Tampons? I’m not so sure. I think the snarky brunette commercial may be a very small step forward. Every successful revolution generally starts with an idea that is changed this way and that and tried out in various ways until some measure of success is achieved. Although it’s difficult to know how many men responded to it in the comments (because of the user names), every single comment was positive.

    I agree that all these commercials insult out intelligence, but I am hopeful that the snarky brunette one might be the leading edge of a more genuine approach to marketing. Perhaps if they used women to plan this commercial, it might help. My guess is that the men behind these commercials are trying not to offend anyone.

    Your post was funny, GotC, and I enjoyed reading it. It’s not a bad idea to let people know women have some intelligence and need facts before buying, same as men do.

    1. Thanks! The pad commercials are pretty bad too. I guess my problem with the snarky brunette was that while she was great at pointing out the ridiculousness of tampon commercials in general, which I appreciated, she still didn’t provide any kind of qualifiable information about the tampons she was selling. I definitely appreciate snarkiness and humor but it doesn’t make me want to buy those tampons.

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