The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

I’m Suffering From A Period Pain …
March 20, 2008, 7:00 am
Filed under: Comment


So an ad agency in Australia has done a campaign for KOTEX tampons using a fucking beaver as an ‘icon’.

Oh yes, very funny – hahahahaha – except it isn’t, infact it’s terrible.

No, it’s not because I’m a prude, it’s because it’s the wrong thing to do.

One of the most fantastic projects I’d ever worked on was in this category [ironically for Kotex], and what came out was that television advertising was pretty much the worst thing a tampon brand could do.

You see it’s all well and good for companies and agencies to say they want to stop the subject matter being taboo, but when you’re a young girl of 12 having their first ever period, you don’t want to be in a room watching telly with your Dad and brother then seeing something like that come on because it’s a time where deep and complex issues are going on and their reaction [or perceived reaction] can fuck you up for a very, very long time.

Anyway before I go on, have a look at the ad …

Admittedly it’s obviously NOT targeted at young girls however their justification for this whole approach is …

“Young women were more comfortable in talking about the issues when euphemisms were made”

… and if you ask me, that is much more an early teen issue than the sort of women that use Sex And The City as a blueprint for how they should live their lives.

And to be honest, if that was the real justification for the campaign approach then …

1 Why didn’t they address the issue of ‘taboo’ head-on because what they’re actually doing is embracing the ‘secrecy’ angle via the euphemism [which isn’t really a euphemism, it’s an old joke from the Naked Gun movies]

2 Why did they use television at all if women find it hard to talk about that sort of thing in public? I mean, a fucking beaver representing a vagina is hardly subtle.

3 Why don’t they talk more about the health issues/concerns that women feel they can’t openly talk about?

4 Why don’t they come up with a reason why ’20 something women’ should choose KOTEX over a competitor?

El Famoso Beso de Madonna y Britney

Look I’m all for talkability and breaking new ground [ie: I think my experience with Tango, Scalextric, Virgin and Mini to name a few proves that] but this ad just smacks of agency and client indulgence, justified by the sort of ‘evidence’ that would be laughed out by most courts in the World.

Shock is great if it still has real relevance and resonance with the consumer, however without it’s just bad disruption – and while I am sure they will have tons of research and feedback saying it’s been good, the reality is what KOTEX is saying/doing is nothing different from the category [infact, they’re not really saying anything about themselves at all] they’re just relying on a “LOOK AT ME” strategy, which actually say’s they’ve got fuck all interesting to say about themselves.

I absolutely hate the ‘awareness’ metric companies use to justify their ads.

To me it’s lazy marketing/advertising and tends to be an excuse for not finding/creating something that IS of interest to the masses – even if that is just interms of the creative message/philosophy/delivery.

Hell, Britney Spears has masses of awareness but that doesn’t mean people are rushing out to be like her.

My standard response to advertising like this is that if awareness is all that’s wanted, pay me a million bucks and I’ll run down the street naked, fucking a frozen turkey shouting the clients brand name at the top of my voice.

[And if you think I’m joking, ask Lee Hill!]

I am so fucked off about this … however what annoys me most is that there really are good ways to communicate tampons to women – ways that don’t rely on gratuitous shock or keeping things secret – it’s just that clients and agencies tend to be too lazy or too obsessed with themselves to ever let it happen.

Right, as I’m sure some women out there will say I am a ‘typical, ill-informed male’, I will sit back and wait for your responses and/or abuse …

46 Comments so far
Leave a comment

I totally agree Rob. At the very best, this is a tacky ad for the entire pad category, not Kotex – “who have fuck all interesting to say about themselves”. Spot on.

Comment by Age

It’s beyond appalling. Apart from all the points you raise about embarrassment (and you just know how this would play out in schools), it seems to me that separates “down there” from the woman. As if it’s an inconvenient relative rather than a defining physical manifestation of womanhood. They wouldn’t get away with doing that with other parts of the anatomy.

Comment by John

this is why i think advertising is in the shit, too many planners and creatives are doing what the fuck they want without any regard to who they are talking to or the issues those people may or may not have.

i agree with you rob and you know how fucking rare that is. this is post rationalised bullshit where the person opening their stupid gob doesnt realise what they are saying.

we have an ad thats not subtle in any fucking way being justtified by an “insight” that says this is an issue people like to talk around rather than about so what do the fucks do, they use a rehashed joke from the 70’s. i bet they thought using a cat would be too obvious and this is far more sensitive, the fucking wankers.

and i bet a female wrote the ad. i dont believe a guy would be able to get that through but a woman? yeah much easier.

itll be a spot that does the youtube rounds and it might make kotex a brand thats more in the heads of certain women but for addressing the issues they say are so important to females, this does fuck all and i hate that they try and claim it does.

thats whats wrong with too many planners, they dont fight they just smooth things over and for all the pain in the fucking ass you can be (then theres george) you at least understand whats really going on in peoples heads and lives.

all output from an agency should also be an “ad” for the agency who created the work for the client, but when they start to just give a shit about themselves and not the people or the client then its the fucking worst and proves they are a company who have little ability to impress when they are forced to work within certain parameters.

if this was a spoof id like it but as an ad, i want to kill the fuckers who did it.

good fuckig post rob, glad youve stopped trying to be an arty farty shit.

Comment by andy@cynic

I got sent this clip by a friend saying it’s the sort of thing my agency would do. I honestly thought they were being insulting because it’s terrible.

There is no insight in it and will work purely on shock value which is fine for some age groups and mindsets but is the antithesis of what is needed to embrace and adopt young girls who are just becoming women, at least biologically.

You raise a major issue Robert because a lot of communication is to engage the trade rather than the customer and for all their talk about wanting to support those health issues that women find hard to talk about, this has very little to do with it and seems to have been constructed for high awareness in the trade channels and the agency arena.

The big question is whether a young girl or the mother of a young girl would buy Kotex after seeing this ad and I think the answer is a resounding no.

My wife finds it funny but as she said, she finds “Friends” funny but she wouldn’t want to have them come and live with us.

The perspective of humour in communication should be about laughing with the brand, not at it.

Good post, shameful ad but can I ask what you would do given you seem to care so much about this category?

Comment by Pete

Last time I looked “down there” I was a woman so I might be better placed to comment on this even if you are all smart and hunky men 🙂

I don’t mind the ad, it raised a smile from me but I agree with what you’re saying, especially where young girls are concerned because it’s something I lived through as well.

I’d rather not go into the details but I developed quite young so for a while I lived in fear of anyone being able to “tell” what was happening to me. My mum was great but I still felt like a freak because none of my friends were there yet so I became obsessed with making sure the male members of my family didn’t know my “secret”.

The problem with pad advertising on television was that it seemed intent on humiliating me, making me squirm or worse, telling my lovely naughty brother that there was something going on that he could tease me about.

This is an issue that would be healthier if it was brought out into the open, but only to a female audience and that’s the problem with TV spots because they are not gender specific.

I’m fine with the ad but it has nothing to do with taking on a tabboo subject or the insight they are saying its based on, it’s about the agency and the brand trying to be cool to 20 somethings who as the song goes, just wanna have fun.

Hate that shot with the beach boys though, it’s almost creepy.

That’s it from little me.


Comment by Jemma King

I’m too scared to write anything here but can someone tell me what the fuck a pad is and where’s “down there”. We’re talking about Australia aren’t we?

Comment by Billy Whizz

Putting aside Billy’s childish ramblings for a second – I am glad this post is getting proper comments, it’s an issue I think is very important.

As for what I’d do Pete – well you are right, the role of communication is as much to impress the trade as it is to actually connect with customers – however in this category, different channels should be used for different purposes which is why I would use television in a way that ‘only women would understand’ – where there is no blatant sell, infact no branding at all – and do work in other channels [that are truly women only] that explain what our national television ads are about and why.

We actually have a whole campaign all done and ready to go – it’s been tested [against young and twenty something women] and gone through with flying colours, even the trade bought into the concept and the media choices – the problem was/is the ego of the client, which if I was a shareholder, I’d complain about.

Comment by Rob

I can see what they are trying to do, but it just doesn’t work.

It’s not bold enough to break any taboos, its not subtle enough to be discrete. Its just in that crappy middle bit.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

1. Get your hand off it everyone.
2. Yes, TV advertising isn’t the right thing for this category.
3. But fuck, as as a chick, I’m thrilled to see something other than someone riding a horse on a beach or windsurfing, “because they can”. I think many women would like this and at least it gets a response, even if it won’t sell product.
4. John, of course this has been done for other body parts – there was a cracker one done for the stomach once that had a blue fluffy creature as the analogy, can’t remember it.
5. I am constantly astounded by how CRAP Australia V/O artists are!!!! Just appalling, ruins the whole thing.

Comment by Angus

The best tampon ad is this one…

Comment by Angus

Well going totally against the grain, I like it, I posted it and said as such. I want advertising to entertain me and while I understand I’m not the target audience a light hearted approach can win people over from every segment of the market.

At the end of the day I love stuff with little furry animals in so that’s what sold it to me.
If you over analyse everything you strip any enjoyment right out of it.

Comment by Charlie Gower

youre right angus its better than some fucking chicks skydiving but i fucking detest this “dont overanalyse” bullshit.

sorry charlie, dont know who the fuck you are but entertainment is important but not at any price and to often its used as an excuse to allow anyone to do any fucking thing they want.

the ad industry needs to remember were here to sell shit. entertainment is vital but so is fucking relevance and understanding and this is self indulgence pure and simple. to be fair my main beef is because of their justification, if theyd kept their fucking gobs shut maybe id of told campbell hes being a twat but they didnt so hes not.

Comment by andy@cynic

and if you love stuff with furry animals charlie, why dont you go and play with richard gere

Comment by andy@cynic

ha ha
knew I’d get panned for that.
And yes Richard is on speed dial.
For example my favourite ad of the minute is the stop motion dancing Cravendale ad. Nothing to do with Milk but I enjoy watching it. I don’t work in advertising though….like 99% of people who watch ads…

Comment by Charlie Gower

do you work for mccaans?

Comment by andy@cynic

or a digital agency?

Comment by andy@cynic

There’s analysing to ensure something is effective, even if that’s just entertaining, and there’s over analysing which is what wankers do…

Comment by Angus

you fucker charlie, you do work in digital. dont take it personally, im not calling you a fucker its just youve proved this mad theory campbell has.

ill get him to write about it because i know id be fucking panned if i said it and i have a pitch in 2 hours and need to be slightly less grumpy

Comment by andy@cynic

liking your anger levels at this minute Mr. Boucher. Are you “on”?

Comment by Marcus

am i on? as in on my period? no marcus, thats chicks stuff, men only suffer the consequences of their menstrual anger 🙂

Comment by andy@cynic

Angus – I meant gender specific body parts obviously. The cottons ad is great for exactly that reason, it focusses on the symptoms and emotions not the physiology. And this is not a case of over-analysis (on this blog – youve got to be kidding) it’s just a gut reaction to the playground mentality of the piece. But I know this won’t stop you calling me a wanker. Nothing has so far.

Comment by John

I must have piles then.

Comment by Marcus

and in one comment i fuck up my carefully crafted sensitive man image

Comment by andy@cynic

Are you saying that we are all shallow Dodds?

Comment by Marcus

Not at all Marcus – some of us are clearly intuitively brilliant

Comment by John

my last comment was brought to you by katerina who promised to not fucking talk to me unless i acknowledged im a cock.

and dodds you are a wanker but youre talking fucking sense for once. your comments arent from overthinking, campbell is over thinking but his overall view is what most of us think and agree with except charlie but by his own admission hes a furry animaloholic.

right fuck periods, i have a company who wants to hand me millions to deal with

Comment by andy@cynic

Your image is secure Andy.

Comment by John

i didnt mean “fuck periods” literally, it was an expression of frustration. jesus this period stuff is a hotbed of potential embarrassment isnt it 🙂

Comment by andy@cynic

I have to agree with Andy on this one…we sell or else

If ever a client wants just to do something funny about tampons, just get them to buy the rights to the Seinfeld episode about tampons..this definitely is not sponge worthy…

Comment by niko

Of course the point is to sell, but there is a chance that you’re all jumping on a wank-bandwagon and overanalysing the ad out of its chance to sell. Given its massive improvement over the other shite that is out there, chicks might actually feel relief and prefer the brand and want to buy it. You have to look at it in context, you fuddy bunch of old women.

Comment by Angus

I’ve checked, I really do have haemoriods.

Comment by Marcus

I do work in digital Andy but not in advertising, service and concepts…

Comment by Charlie Gower

Charlie – you have no idea what you just laid yourself open to.

Comment by John

[…] Robert doesn’t hold back, and there’s a really lively [Read: feisty!] debate going on in his comments. […]

Pingback by Marketing » Blog Archive » CampaignChat: It’s easy to criticise, but what have you done lately?

im not saying it wont sell tampons angus even if they offer no discernable reason why a woman should swap brands, im saying it isnt true to the bollocks they claim is the reason behind the spot and as such wont appeal to young girls who are going through one of the most confronting and emotional times of their lives.

problem is too many people forget the shit they went through as kids (or dont want to remember it) which is why we end up with rollerskating chicks or beavers in tampon ads when the real business need in this category is to “get them young” as the majority stay with the first brand they find “comfortable” which in terms of getting them to trial, is going to be a brand that resonates with them not a brand that publicises an issue they want to keep to themselves.

our pitch went very well thanks for asking and youre safe for today charlie because im too fucking knackered to embrace the rather large holes of “humour opportunity” you laid out infront of me.

happy easter fuckers 🙂

Comment by andy@cynic

and for marcus, i went to a dr and said something was wrong with my arse and when he checked he said there was a strawberry wedged up there. i asked what we could do and he said not to worry because he had some cream for it.

boom fucking tish

Comment by andy@cynic

i haven’t read all the comments, ‘cos i’m on holidays. but rob (and age) you know how i feel about the ad. (see age’s blog for my responses). i find it so fucking weird that the ad has been banned here. and i find it really strange (or perhaps quite typical) that it’s the blokes on here that are appalled by the ad and not the girls. hmm….

Comment by lauren

oh, and i learned a new euphemism from a bunch of 50-something women yesterday, which i should have known long ago: see you next tuesday!! (c, u, etc, etc).

Comment by lauren

It’s been banned?

That’s mad – and for what justification?

I think what Andy wrote is bang on – it is not offensive to women who have established their monthly period merry-go-round – however for young girls who aren’t comfortable with talking about periods [which, lets remember, is their justification for the ad] it is very confronting – and not in a positive way.

Trust me, this has nothing to do with men finding it offensive because I don’t think we do – at least interms of execution – what is pissing me off is the poor representation and reasoning behind the making of the spot.

Lets remember, they ‘claim’ the insight behind this spot was …

“Young women were more comfortable in talking about the issues when euphemisms were made”

However a beaver isn’t a euphamism, it’s an unsubtle visual gag which shows they’re either talking bollocks, the ad is really aimed at people who don’t find it hard to talk about periods or they are just going for shock in the hope it makes them famous.

I got the same sort of shit thrown at me when I did Tango and Super Noodle in the UK – however I never claimed the ads were about flying the flag for deeply personal subjects that too many people find hard to talk about.

It’s Easter – I should be eating choccies rather than talking about periods – so lets leave it there till next week, but thanks to all for their comments, it’s been an enjoyable read.

Happy Easter …

Comment by Rob

For a woman who is ‘in the know’ – I’m amazed you only just learnt that euphasmism Lauren – I’m almost disappointed in you 🙂

Comment by Rob

I always thought a beaver was a metaphor but then again I’m more into otters recently ;

Where are you Campbell. I’ve been trying to call.

Comment by Charles Frith

hes with me except the fucker is fast asleep. ill get him to call you charlie boy

Comment by andy@cynic

Isn’t the point that the insight was valid but the execution chose to ignore it?

By focussing on the euphemistic, they just reinforces the avoidance behaviour they’ve uncovered. Far better surely (but far harder of course) to produce something that makes people (of both genders) less uncomfortable to address the issue in non-euphemistic terms.

And I think I’d disagree with some other commenters – if you can create something that does this, then television is exactly the place for it because of the wider social impact it could potentially have. Sometimes it seems to be me that saying television is not right is predicated on the presumption that you can’t produce something that works on television rather than the medium itself being inappropriate. But what do I know about your crazy ad world?

P.S. Charles I think herbivore was the word you were looking for.

Comment by John

i like how youre answering this all professionally dodds, its showing your class or age 🙂

youre right about finding the right way to use television to promote period based products and to be fair to campbell he does explain this in his response to pete, but given the insight they discovered, especially against very young kids, then you have to start thinking theres better mediums to focus on than television and its use is more because of client and agency ego / trade support than any real goal to address the taboos of the fucking category.

theres too little sensitivity and subtlety in ads today, its all hard core and thats fucked because the best stuff is emotional and yet were seeing less and less of it. back to my point about too many creatives being execution producers than creative thinkers.

its fucking easter and im still talking periods, its leaving a nasty taste in my mouth i can tell you 🙂

Comment by andy@cynic

On behalf on all 1970’s comedians, I apologise for Andy’s ‘joke’ 🙂

Comment by Rob

rob, i know, i’m ashamed of myself. and i double checked the banning thing: not banned yet – to be reviewed by the ASB again next month, but raised all this discussion about the perception of women as ‘walking vaginas’… to which i have to fucking sigh with boredom (especially as a low-budge ad for a dealership with a DD bombshell sprawled across the bonnet won’t even register on the scale, but that’s a rant i’m sick of making).

glad the pitch went well. happy easter all y’all.

Comment by lauren

Leave a Reply