Just don't say vagina: the acceptable version of the tampon ad.
For years, advertising for tampons and "sanitary products" have been shrouded in nebulous euphemism. So what happens when a US tampon-maker drops the coy messaging and goes straight for the jugular (so to speak)? Its ad gets banned by the major US television networks for mentioning the word vagina.
Even when the company substituted "down there" for vagina, two of the networks still wouldn't run the ad, so the company was forced to drop the idea altogether. That provoked Amanda Hess, author of The Sexist blog, to observe: "Now, the commercial contains no direct references to female genitalia – you know, the place where the fucking tampon goes."
An executive for Kimberly-Clark, the owner of Kotex, notes that US TV networks have no such compunction about references to "erectile dysfunction" in prime-time ads for Viagra and Ciallis.
The New York Times reports that the campaign – produced by the advertising agency JWT, part of WPP – for tampon brand Kotex was "a bit too frank" for US television:
Merrie Harris, global business director at JWT, said that after being informed that it could not use the word vagina in advertising by three broadcast networks, it shot the ad cited above with the actress instead saying "down there", which was rejected by two of the three networks. (Both Ms Harris and representatives from the brand declined to specify the networks.)
"It's very funny because the whole spot is about censorship," Ms Harris said. "The whole category has been very euphemistic, or paternalistic even, and we're saying, enough with the euphemisms, and get over it. Tampon is not a dirty word, and neither is vagina."
The amended ad shown above, "How do I feel about my period?", has a series of images parodying the stock images used in sanitary product advertising, and concludes: "The ads on TV are really helpful because they use that blue liquid, and I'm like, oh, that's what's supposed to happen." The ad debuted on US television this week.