In the past few years, we've watched most intimate areas in life get the star treatment: Vaginas got monologues, erectile dysfunction products sponsored our favorite shows, and Dr. Oz discussed bowel movements on Oprah. So it should come as no surprise that now, girls, it's period time. As far as I can see, menstrual couture is about to go viral, and if we don't get in the conversation, we'll be left out of it. Have you seen the new U by Kotex commercial?
Forget the airy-fairy art direction of yore that wrapped the whole messy topic in a diaphanous twirl of euphemism. The new ads are making fun of themselves, and with salted snark. As the New York Times reports about the spot above, "the clips mocked ...are actually from Kotex commercials, some shown within the last year." The U by Kotex campaign, the paper continues, has more self-parodying ads to come, and is trying to position the brand as the leader in frank talk about a long-secreted topic. One of the new print ads shows a woman driving a convertible, and reads: "I tied a tampon to my keyring so my brother wouldn't take my car. It worked." And you'll notice that the familiar mousy pink and blue boxes have gotten a brash makeover. Now the tampons come in edgy black packaging with bold, buy-me colored accents.
Corporate self-skewering is always endearing. But in all honesty, this new marketing lampoonery may be a case of Desparate Tampons. Business is lagging in the feminine hygiene market, reports suggest. Certainly the growing number of new birth control pills that wipe out your period are giving menstruation products a run for their money. Come to think of it, Kimberly-Clark, the company that makes Kotex, may have taken a cue from Saturday Night Live, which spoofed the bejeezus out of Seasonale, one of the enemy period-robbing pills.