There has never been a product more ripe for self-parody than the tampon. And yet, despite our otherwise irony-soaked marketing landscape, advertisers have never managed to create hip, self-aware commercials for a cylindrical tuft of cotton designed to sop up blood and uterine tissue. Instead, they’ve aimed for earnest, aspirational, gauzy. In a recent ad campaign for their new line of neon-colored tampons, Kotex has finally started to break the cycle, offering a refreshingly irreverent sendup of all of the industry’s most cherished menstrual care conventions.
And lo, are those conventions ripe for mocking. Back in February, DoubleX editor Hanna Rosin hosted a panel discussion at the Housing Works Bookstore in New York City on how companies sell embarrassing products to women. Former Colbert Report executive producer Allison Silverman, Target Women creator Sarah Haskins, and Flow author Susan Kim joined us for a lively and hilarious dialogue about pads, ‘pons, and pills. During the program, Silverman led the audience through a guided tour of the weird world of fem-care marketing, replicated here in aslide-show essay about ridiculous pad and tampon ads.