Tampon Revamp! Have you seen the new ads?

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.


Laugh or cry. The issue of whether a woman needs to menstruate is a whole other topic. I do find it interesting that in the same week the Kotex commercials debuted, a new study has come out in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin showing just how intwined our periods are with our psyches. Reporting on a growing body of evidence, the authors say that girls who grow up without a father tend to start their periods early. Further, these girls, when tested in their 20s, evaluate men more negatively and consider them more threatening than those who start menstruating later.

As for tampons and pads? We've certainly come a long way from douching with Lysol. (Did you ever see those ads? "Please Dave..Don't let me be locked out from you!" reads one, advising that if your love life cools, it's your smelly old fault, and all you have to do is douse your dainties with bathroom disinfectant. As if!)

So if feminine hygiene products are being revamped as fierce, fashion-forward gear-even just as a marketing strategy-I say it's a good thing. Considering all the time we put into menstruating, the topic is surely worthy of a fresh take. Keep this up and men will have tampon envy.

What do you think about the ads?

For more period pieces:

The benefits of menstruation (yes, there are some)
PMS need-to-know
Why you should keep track of your flow

[Photo credit: Getty Images/Stockbyte]