The Evolution of the Tampon Ad

Mother and daughter - Hello Flo ad

When music streaming giants Spotify announced that they had created a (very necessary) PMS playlist in September, we delighted in the idea that the media had finally grown up about menstruation.

Only a few months previously, Always had created the brilliant #LikeAGirl campaign, which stressed the importance of the destructive everyday language used in relation to connecting female attributes to weakness.  Watch the powerful video which started it all below:

However, a world in which menstruation is actually personified by a snarky ‘Mother Nature’ character rather than spoken about in muted phrases like ‘feminine needs’ has been decades coming.

Just have a look at this extremely cringe-worthy ad for Playtex scented tampons to see exactly what we mean, in which women circulate zombie-like towards the free ‘purse-pack’ (because God forbid someone would realize that that is in fact a pad in your bag).

Luckily, we’ve come a long way since 1979 in the media and advertisement’s attitudes to menstruating women. But we’re not there yet. A shocking 2010 advertisement for Kotex shows just how uncomfortable men still are about the idea of buying tampons, or indeed even saying the word ‘tampon’.

The intelligent tongue-in-cheek ads from Hello Flo deserve a serious nod in this movement towards the essential but very slow normalisation of periods. For those of you who haven’t heard of them, Hello Flo is an American business which delivers tampons and pads to your door (along with a sugary treat) timed exactly to the menstruation schedule you provide for them. You may have seen some of their viral marketing videos, such as ‘The Camp Gyno’ and ‘Full Moon Party’ (featured below). They are targeted at girls just approaching their first period, and provide a soft landing into the world of menstruation, while again normalising it in the process for all of its 28 million viewers (so far).

Questionable advertisements aside, we have come a long way from the whispers of ‘feminine protection’ and clinical blue liquid being poured by a disembodied hand into the sanitary towels of decades gone.

Most importantly of all, let’s be glad that having to endure images like these are a thing of the past:

Hannah Popham @HannahPopham

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