5.10.2010

SORR ABOUT THE RAG

We get a lot of strange mail at our house. The neighbors’ subpoenas, previous tenants’ car insurance bills, and a flyer for an art show featuring a picture of a weeping black couple kissing a Bible. We’ve also gotten a coupon for discount Botox, which… I’m not going to lowball my face poison, I don’t know about you. The only person I ever knew who was a Botox technician was dumb as a stick. So it wasn’t that big a surprise when we got mail from Kotex the other day.

Kotex sent us a sample pack of their new, “fun” feminine hygiene products – a pad, a pantyliner, and a tampon. As near as I can make out, the “fun” is limited entirely to the brightly colored packaging.
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(UPDATE: I was wrong, the pads themselves have a jaunty swirl design.)
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I’m not sure that’s enough to qualify as “fun” in my mind. Superhero pads? Fine. That’s fun. Rag all over a Ninja Turtle or an X-Man. The commercial could feature Wonder Woman single-handedly holding back a tide of mysterious blue liquid. Or they could have fortunes. Imagine a tampon that said “You will have significant abdominal discomfort today.” It’s always correct! Just being in a neon green package doesn’t make it “fun.” Full disclosure: I’m not a woman, so technically I don’t know if this zesty approach works, but I know it’s turning me off faster than a pick-up line from some guy named Snakebite.

Setting aside the materials themselves, we’re left with the informational brochures. YES. We have:

- A sheet with a fancy pattern on one side, and warnings about toxic shock syndrome on the other. It sucks you in with the fetching design, and then hits you across the beak with blood poisoning. A for amazing.

- Instructions in French, Spanish, and English.
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The French word for pantyliner translates to “under-protector,” in case anyone’s going on vacation. The English set has a series of questions and answers, including everyone’s favorite old tune, “Am I Still A Virgin If I Use A Tampon?” (It’s the same tune as “And The Band Played On.”) The instructions are oddly detailed and begin with “Wash your hands” and “open the wrapper.” A diagram is provided that looks nothing like an actual pelvis. If she needs a diagram, shouldn’t she have a good one? The instructions also advertise that the tampons are “pocket size.” Really? Are there non-pocket-sized tampons? Granted, some might be smaller than others but… too big for a pocket? For like, Amazons and valkyries? The last instruction is “Remember to remove the last tampon at the end of your period.” I… really? There’s also a chart so you can estimate whether you need regular, super, or super-plus, based on your flow. There are two problems I have with this. One, it doesn’t have a time period – 6 to 9 grams per what? Two, what woman knows her flow in grams? How do you find this out? Do you block out a day to menstruate into a graduated cylinder? (If you have, please don’t tell me because I don’t want to know.)

- Third, we have a little brochure purely devoted to how fun these products are. Quotes:

“Any more exciting and you’d be busted.”
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Exciting? Women call it the curse. It involves blood and pain. I guess warfare is exciting while involving blood and pain, but… having a period? Exciting?

“Farewell, dullsville. Time to shake things up for care DOWN THERE. Fresh look. WOW protection. Extra attitude."
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So, you’re all pert and sassy, but you’re still calling it your DOWN THERE, in all caps? And how does a pad have attitude? If a waiter is rude, do you hit him in the face with it?

“Stash a few in your purse, your bra.” If this were under the picture of pads, I could imagine clever dual-purpose marketing where you could pad your bosom and then if Aunt Flo called, just downgrade from C to B and pop your erstwhile bust into your underwear. But it’s under the tampons, so presumably, the fresh, sassy new approach to women’s bodies involves a bosom lumpy because your brassiere is full of tampons. Spontaneous, vibrant tampons.

“Comfy, thin. Shockingly discreet.” Shockingly discreet? Isn’t that like “Mexican government?” And what’s the alternative? An overt pad? Discreet things don’t have brochures.

“What planet are we living on where care down there seems strangely taboo? Or where ads for pads make us cringe? TIME TO (finally!) BREAK the CYCLE.” What planet are you living on? THEY’RE PADS. They absorb blood so women can go to work without leaving telltale, “Family Circus”-style tracks. The cycle of what? Not jumping for joy and running down the street screaming “the Vex of Venus is here! I can use my frolicsome new Kotex products! They’re so vibrant and free!”

UPDATE:

So, I had this giddy night making fun of women’s products, and then the next day the other shoe dropped. Giant Camel and I went to a bar for lunch, and ESPN was on behind the counter. They were talking about the NFL draft and taking their damn sweet time getting around to the only conference that matters, the NFC South. While I was waiting, I saw the same men’s deodorant commercial five times. It starts out like they all do: shirtless man applies deodorant in well-appointed, steamy bathroom. Then it zooms in on his armpit and tiles it across the screen, so there are four identical plump armpits in view, underarm hair sticking out like malnourished beach grass.

Then, squares cut out of the armpits sink out of view, to be replaced by tropical island scenes.

Armpits. Replaced. By islands.

So, “fresh” and “zesty,” the man goes about his day, and the new flavors of deodorant are shown. “Matterhorn,” “Denali,” “Cyprus,” and “Fiji.” Now, the mountain-armpit-freshness axis is well-established, if stupid. I want to talk about Cyprus and Fiji.

Actually, first, I want to talk about on-screen armpits. It’s completely tasteless. If someone came up to a stranger on the street and showed them his armpit, mountain fresh or not, the police would be called and there would be tears. Happens on TV? Oh, cool. Vomit while you’re at it.

CYPRUS and FIJI. I’ve never been to either one, but I have been to Israel and New Caledonia, which are in the general areas. They are hot, sunny, sandy, and full of Europeans. They are not FRESH. I was sweating like a whore in church, and I had deodorant. You sweat so much you get in the ocean to dry off. Everyone stinks like a French fish market. It’s not their fault. It’s hot.

What idiot threw darts at a globe to pick these places? Was every mountain and ice floe already in use? “You know what’s brisk and fresh and oh-so-suave? Hot islands.” If they named rum, or bathing suits, or luxury hotels, or even cologne after these islands, I wouldn’t care. (As much.) But deodorant? Is there sand stirred into it for authenticity?

So what do you think? Are these insane marketing ploys, or am I an old grouch who doesn’t have enough fun with his hygiene? Or both?

44 comments:

CarmenT said...

I laughed so hard I ended up doing a wheezing, choking cough several times reading the tampon/pad part of your post.

I am going to perhaps refer to this post in my blog as I have done two other "vagina posts" - lol - before. I noticed one on another blog twice before and so apparently I am not the only one to find this subject amusing. If I do I will be sure to give the address of your site so people can check out this very funny blog for themselves.

Keep up the good work and the funnier than funny posts. By the way, how often do you generally post. I'd like to keep current on your "dual voice" blog.

table talk said...

Actually, I don't think you can make fun of the kotex ad one, considering that's making fun of the other products out there that use those marketing products.

But agreed. Wish I could just watch TV and commercials without living in my head and anally overanalyzing everything.

queenmargot said...

So the grams thing... I remember my aunt went off on this tirade about how does anyone know hoe many grams of blood woman menstruates. I remember one of her suggestions was to squeeze out tampons. But seriously. It really is weird and I've spent way too much time thinking about it.

As for your question, advertising is ridiculous and pretty questionable most of the time. You're not just old. I'm really glad I haven't seen that armpit commercial.

Wiggs (The Beholder) said...

I sorta like the Kotex commercials, just because they make fun of that weird blue liquid.

But as for your question about grams...two words for you: Diva Cup. Easily one of the most divisive issues in menstrual hygiene, for those who know of it. I'm actually pro-Cup, but you should know that as soon as you learn what it is your eyeballs will begin to bleed and jump out of your face and run as fast and far as they can (my husband gags if I even mention it).

Anonymous said...

TC: Kotex actually made these "fun" products to mock other feminine hygiene products. Your take on them was pretty humorous though.

Todd said...

The fact that Kotex decides to be ironic and tongue-in-cheek with their "bad tampon commercial" does not excuse the fact that they made a bad tampon commercial. They simply made a different kind of bad commercial. I'm so sick of people thinking that making snarky commercials is some kind of excuse for being stupid.

I think my main issue is that they still call it "down there" and attempt to say that they are breaking barriers and cutting edge. If that's the case, say "vagina". I mean "down there" is just ridiculous.

Rosalyn said...

My favorite are the new 'feminine hygiene product' ads, by Kotex I believe, that are commercials making fun of the ads where girls are smiling, laughing, have a grand ole time whilst Aunt Flo is visiting (See here).

Because Kotex has never made those ads before.

Also, this. For realsies, I sat in shock at the idiocy of this marketing campaign. Pregnancy tests should not be marketed like a sports car for men with small penises, period (pun intended).

rebecca said...

Wiggs - sorr about the TMI, but I am using my beloved DivaCup as we speak. Honestly ladies, so long as blood doesn't totally freak you out, it'll make your period way more tolerable ...

Hails said...

I'm throwing my hat in the Diva Cup ring.

I could go on a fucking tirade about why it's the best option out there but I will say that I love to yell from the bathroom "EWWW! HEY BOYFRIEND! COME LOOK AT ALL THIS BLOOD!"

best part of my period.

Jessica Ellis said...

Hmmm. In the commercials, (as previous posters have mentioned) they are making fun of the other commercials that use the blue liquid and make our periods seem like a delightful day at the park. It looks like the mail campaign is doing the opposite, cause it doesn't look like they are being snarky. Hmmm. I, for one, am baffled.

And, by the way, NO, I would not say that tampons are pocket size. A full size tampon will absolutely stick out of the top of one's pocket, usually at the most inopportune time.

Anonymous said...

Another diva cup user here! I was hoping the comments would be all about menstrual cups. Can't wait to hear what Meg has to say about this.

Jules said...

My roommate and I love the snarky Kotex commercials! But yeah -- as someone else pointed out, I'm sure the company has been guilty of using the typical girls-twirling-in-slow-motion, girls-playing-extreme-sports, blue-liquid-demo ads in the past.

Also: I've never been able to figure this out -- WHY do pads even exist? You're bleeding onto something that keeps the blood smooshed against you for HOURS. They're unwieldy, uncomfortable, and you can't go swimming with them. The only pro I can think of is you won't forget you're wearing one. Otherwise, YUCK, NO THANKS, and GOOD NIGHT.

Erin said...

best post by tulane chris thus far. bravo! bravo! and youre right on point as well. i also believe both tampax and kotex are owned by men. therefore their inpet understanding of the womanly curse and misconstruing it as something amazing which should be celebrated in bright swirly colors is somewhat understandable. but no less deplorable. can we do hit them with the sassy pads?

Kelly Aline said...

If you find the US U by Kotex marketing bad, perhaps you'd rather them tell us to "Take care of Your Beaver" ??

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sD8fSgQ-XYs

emily said...

in kotex's defense, i think i remember reading an article about their use of "down there" v. vagina, and someone (whoever regulates advertising? the fcc???) wouldn't let them use the word vagina. i know i know, how perfectly AWFUL to consider using the anatomical/medical term. ghastly! what WERE they thinking?!

Anonymous said...

maybe its cause im a dude, but reading about tampons in the morning is not cool.

Rosalyn said...

Re: Kelly Aline

I would 100% support that Australian Kotex ad over the American Ukotex ones. It's actually entertaining, whereas I equivocate the ones we get here as such:

American Ukotex snark: Actual snark :: Avril Lavigne punk : Actual punk.

It tries, but is actually just the same watered-down mainstream crap they rebel against in the first place.

Anonymous said...

love the post as i too received the kotex party pack in the mail and was mildly amused. however, the inevitable googling of "diva cup" has ruined my monday. ewwww. and i have a vagina.

Anonymous said...

I've been reading the blog for a while, but after this post decided it was high time to leave a comment. Tulane Chris, you are hilarious. I couldn't stop laughing at work, which is awkward since no one really talks and I'm pretty sure the only thing breaking the silence was my intermittent cackling. Well done!

Bel Air said...

I love armpits.

Stephanie said...

Tulane Chris, you are totally winning my heart with these posts. The snarky Kotex ads do crack me up because seriously? I don't start my period and then think "LET'S GO FUCKING HORSEBACK RIDING TODAY! AND I'M GOING TO WEAR A WHITE SKIRT!!!!"

Those are the last two things I want to do. But guess what else doesn't make my period a weeklong party, rainbow coloured tampons.

Touche on the "grams of blood" thing too. I remember being 12 and being scared I was going to use the wrong size tampon because I had no idea how much was coming out.

thislittlebirdie said...

NOT TO DEFEND the Kotex folks, but I will say that a tampon can easily be hidden down the middle of your bra (no lumps!). Also a handy storage place for lip gloss. Then you line the top inside of one cup with your ID and credit card, and you're good to go: hands free and ready to dance.

Santa Chiara said...

"THEY’RE PADS. They absorb blood so women can go to work without leaving telltale, 'Family Circus'-style tracks."

Dude, you're killing me. HILARIOUS.

Emily said...

1. Girl's pockets are much smaller than boy's. A regular-sized tampon will show. The compact ones usually don't. This was especially important to me in junior high and high school, when I cared if people knew I had my period.

2. I'm a copywriter (but I don't work on Kotex or anything) so I can tell you that the simple fact is, most products are exactly the same. The only difference is the marketing and packaging. So Kotex tried something to make them seem as different as you can when all you're really doing is soaking up blood. Don't blame advertisers. Blame every "entrepreneur" who wants to start their own business by creating the exact same product.

But yeah, there's no excuse for still using the phrase "down there."

Shannon said...

I LOVE THIS POST! I have never, ever, everrrrrrrrrrr had an enjoyable "cycle" and if i did i would know that i've officially gone crazy. Who's idea was it that bright colors and fun slogans would make us forget that were experiencing the "red curse"? Hey, i might be lying on the floor in agony but at least these tampons are SASSY!

Lydia said...

I hate to say it, but the instructions apparently do need to say "remove the tampon." My husband worked in a hospital where an older, obese woman came in complaining of cramps. While performing the inspection (which required extra hands to hold up her FUPA) they found six tampons inside her. SIX! If that doesn't make you want to remove your uterus, I don't know what would.

Sarah said...

hells yes Diva Cup!

Anonymous said...

Fuck that was hilarious.

please tackle yeast infection commercials next.

A Different Meg said...

"The last instruction is “Remember to remove the last tampon at the end of your period.” I… really?"

Actually, yes, really.

But it's gross. I mean really really really gross. Like, think about how gross you think it's going to be...now multiply that by a hundred. And double it. It's definitely still grosser.

But, if you have a strong constitution and aren't a squeamish wimp, then it's also that awesome.

Pebbles said...

I must say, I don't know if I am your only overseas reader or not, cause I cannot be bothered to read the comments section - but I'm sure you do! - (here Meg, I use the hyphens as well, but hey I'm French, I'm not even sure what it means nor how to spell it) - BUT this is my favourite blog of all times. This is the funniest thing in the world, and I am the funniest person on my street! and I have just moved! to London! (nation-city of sarcasm!)
I am so happy and I want to give a warm welcome (back?) to Tulane Chris, cause his posts are a delish. I am spreading the word as a madwoman on the the old tired land, and hopefully, if America ditches you, you'll find some recognition here, and can be the next Ricky Gervais or something. Both of you.
Keep up the good work, I am under your spell.

caityc said...

Can I just say:
http://www.blogohblog.com/wp-content/pop/2007/12/sexy-firefox.jpg

Yeah. You're welcome.

Anonymous said...

I have tears from laughing

Wiggs (The Beholder) said...

I know it's creepy that I left this page open all day, but I just KNEW there would be some more Diva Cup fans out there. When you get your Diva Cup, they even give you a lapel pin so you can give knowing looks to all the ladies who know what the symbol means.

Oh, and my girls and I call it "cuppin'" when we're using our Divas.

Sorry Meg and Chris. I hope I haven't ruined your minds.

Harriet Olivia said...

I can't believe you missed an opportunity to use the "tampon flinging" tag. Say SORR ABOUT THE TAG.

My favourite stupid menses product is the tampon with a skirt. YES, WITH A SKIRT. Like a ruffle for your labia.

Andrea said...

So I'm sitting at work, trying to work, but I just got my period so my cramps are horrible. I downed a couple Vicodin and decided I needed something more entertaining than work to distract me from my self-destructing uterus until the drugs kicked in, so I came on here. While this certainly didn't make me forget about what's going on DOWN THERE, it did crack me up about it.

Oh, and I looked up the whole diva cup thing, and am a little intrigued. My only thought though - Do you rinse the blood out in the sink? Because I'm picturing how the toothpaste chunks sometimes stick on the sink, but with period blood clots, and it's grossing me out.
Just thought I'd pass that mental image on.

Sarah said...

Well, Andrea, I don't know what most people do, but I pour my diva cup into the toilet and then wipe it clean with toilet paper. You could also rinse it out in the sink, but my sink is unreachable from the toilet so I don't do that.

Stephenie said...

look, I know I can google it. But let me just say that I don't actually want an answer when I say what the HELL is a diva cup????

honestly I can sort of gather what it is. It's just blowing my mind that such a thing exists.

[ & Chris -- funny funny post. ]

Andrea said...

Sarah, that definitely sounds a lot easier than I had imagined re: the directions on the website. I had a whole mental image of taking it out, than hanging onto it while you go to the bathroom and wipe, then waddling over to the sink while your pants are still half down to rinse it and wash it with a mild soap (as per the directions) before reinsertion. Knowing my luck I'd trip and fall and it would look like Carrie's prom all up in my bathroom.

Anonymous said...

"The commercial could feature Wonder Woman single-handedly holding back a tide of mysterious blue liquid."

Yeah, they've already pretty much done that...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G71TdwY_Eo0

mmills said...

LMFAO while administering an high school AP test. Inaapropriate? probably. doesn't matter because that was hilarious. I can't tell you how many times I am cracking up, while all the students i am substitute teaching are jealous while they do their worksheets. I'm hard at work as usual :)

2 more things. new chris.. ur funny!

And I have so had a "sorr about the bag" moment. My digital photography teacher ripped up one of my photos in front of the whole class and literally said "what not to do." i did it.

nic said...

Holy hell I detest the armpit commercial!! It's just...wrong. I mean, an armpit? A dude's armpit? Really? All hairy and...hairy and GROSS. Yuck!

Thank you for addressing how stupid this commercial AND the Kotex BS is. I know they're trying to mock the category of branding they fall under, but they've just dug themselves a new hole. And um....huh...developed a product to plug it up with.

EW! Sorr.

ashzilla said...

Oh my goodness, I about died reading this!!!! TOO TRUE!!!!

Mayle said...

I just googled DIVA CUP, and died. I am writing from purgatory, because God won't let me in until I stop vomiting.

Thank you.

CarmenT said...

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