If marketing campaigns have taught us anything about periods, it is that menstruating women love to dance, are drawn to white spandex and, oh yeah, bleed a Kool-Aid like blue liquid ... which they store in beakers.
Until now. Maxi-pad company Always has broken the taboo and revealed that sanitary napkins are actually produced for the absorption of blood.
That's right, in what advertising expert/blogger Copyranter describes as a "historical advertising move," an ad for Always ultra thin with Leak Guard protection shows a hygienic looking pad with a red spot in the middle.
Granted, the pin-sized droplet might not be the most accurate representation of what to expect when "Aunt Flo" (what's your favorite period euphemism?) comes to town, but it's definitely a step in a more accurate direction.
With the average woman using an estimated 16,800 sanitary napkins or tampons in her lifetime, the demand for feminine hygiene products is substantial. Still, there is a history of advertisers using idioms and "subtle" imagery to avoid directly marketing products that the public might find off-putting. In Elissa Stein and Susan Kim's book Flow: The Cultural Story of Menstruation, the authors explore the stigma of the period, writing that menstruation is often "hidden in a figurative box (scented, of course), stuffed deep inside the great medicine cabinet of American culture: out of sight and unmentioned."
As Tina Fey notes in her comedic memoir Bossypants, this advertising could prove confusing to your average pubescent teen having her first period. Fey writes of her own menses, "I had noticed something was weird earlier in the day, but I knew from the commercials that one's menstrual period was a blue liquid you poured like laundry detergent into maxi pads to test their absorbency."
While there has been a recent movement to break from the "I like to spin in slow motion while wearing white skirt" stereotype in tampon commercials, blood still has yet to appear in TV commercials. The Always ad only appears in print.
What do you think? Should feminine product advertisers abandon their signature sterile blue liquid in ads?
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