It’s pretty safe to say that among the worst breeds of commercials and advertisements, tampon and other “feminine product” spots take the cake. And, we know it’s pretty uncomfortable to read a blog dedicated to the issue, but we’re all grown-ups here (mostly), and there’s a lot to be learned.
We bring this up because Kotex has recently launched its “Anti-Tampon-Ad Campaign,” to polarizing reviews. Their new ads spotlight the ridiculousness of the glorification of menstruation, the euphoric feelings that apparently accompany it, and somehow, the need to constantly wear tight white pants, which is downright absurd (the pants, not the parody). They make some valid points that are not only relevant to this genre of advertising, but advertising across the board. They also point fingers at those agencies that select “racially ambiguous” spokespeople and determine every aspect of an ad based on the responses of focus groups with the attention of appealing to everyone. In the end, the ads appeal to no one.
Some critics think the ads are trying too hard to be edgy, and that attitude is off-putting. We think these people should not take themselves or their tampon ads so seriously. Yet others say they’re not trying hard enough. Instead, they insist the ads are no better than the previous whimsical, sterile and vague commercials of their competitors because, instead of actually detailing the benefits of the products, they are using a different form of distraction to avoid the uncomfortable subject matter.
Here’s the thing: in the tampon market, there just isn’t a whole lot of room for product differentiation, and no amount of touting the absorbency and comfort of a piece of cotton is going to change that. So sure, Kotex isn’t making any REAL points about the quality of their tampons or why someone should choose their box on the fluorescently lit shelf. ANYONE who has bought tampons has tried to make the purchase as FAST as possible – trust me guys, we’re not reading the bullet points on the package in the middle of the store… “Oh look! This one is made from 25 different absorbent fibers!” No. Nobody has ever taken the time to learn about the 25 absorbent fibers.
And THAT is why this ad campaign is pretty effective. Without explicitly sharing the process by which the tampons work (gross!), these ads manage to be honest and sincere, and if nothing else, they are certainly memorable. And when you’re making a 15-second purchase decision, as a tampon company, your best bet is staying top of mind.
So what’s the take-away here? If your product is in a market that doesn’t really offer anything different from your competitor (pizza, dog food, chewing gum, toothpaste…), your ads don’t HAVE to be informative. They just have to be the best. And if you do have something to say (as in the Apple ads comparing Macs to PCs), you do have to take it a step further and not only explain why your product is better and unique, but also remind your audience that it exists. As always, think about what your advertising is trying to achieve, and the solution is usually pretty simple. PERIOD.