The typical tampon or pantyliner commercial might feature flowers, unicorns and women in white bikinis, but Carefree decided to get real with its latest pantyliner ad by discussing some natural bodily functions. Its approach, which included the use of words like "vagina" and vaginal "discharge," offended some, who in turn complained to the Advertising Standards Bureau (ASB).
The Carefree Acti-Fresh pantyliner ad features a naked woman, standing in a stark white room, strategically covered by flower petals. It might seem like the standard feminine-hygiene formula, until she says, "Even that bit of discharge in between our period is our body working to keep the vagina healthy."
A spokeswoman for the ASB told NineMSN that the Carefree ad received complaints soon after it first aired in New Zealand on Monday night.
Carefree spokeswoman Debbie Selikman responded by telling NineMSN that the company wanted to move away from the grandiloquent language typically used in ads for feminine products.
"It’s the first time a major brand has had the guts to use real words, not euphemisms or diminutive terms," Selikman told NineMSN.
Stop Press, a New Zealand blog covering media news, reported that the Carefree ad was created in response to a study that revealed women want more frank information about their bodies.
“We have found that many women are bothered by discharge yet do not know a lot about it, or how to manage it," Michelle Forster, women’s health manager at Johnson & Johnson Pacific, said, according to Stop Press. "We have decided to take a bold approach in this campaign with the aim to tackle a subject which has always been taboo. We want to encourage women to talk openly about their bodies, educating them both on discharge and the benefits of using Carefree acti-fresh liners on a daily basis.”
Jezebel's Katie J.M. Baker applauded the ad.
"The ad is a much-needed departure from other feminine hygiene campaigns," Baker wrote. "It's refreshing for a company to admit that women aren't beautiful, vagina-less flowers (even if they're hiding behind them), and that discharge is perfectly normal and okay."
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story included the phrase "vaginal discharge" in quotations in the headline and in the body of the text. This article has been corrected to specify that the phrase "vaginal discharge" is not referred to in the Carefree pantyliner ad. The ad refers only to the word "discharge."