Not Your Average Tampon

Gone are the days of being ashamed of Mother Nature. And in are the days of feminism as a commodity. U by Kotex embraces that girls have periods and shouldn’t be embarrassed about them. U by Kotex is a branch of the Kotex branch that sells pads, tampons, and panty liners to a younger generation. Their focus is on the teens and tweens who are just starting to figure out where they fit in on the feminine product scale. In this blog post we are going to only focus on these three ads, which are part of their new television campaign and dissect them with Burke’s Pentad: act, agent, agency, scene, and purpose.

Each of these ads is set up as a vlog to their old pad or tampon. The videos are either on their desktop, in an email, or as a blog post. The videos start out as a breakup video to what the audience would assume as their boyfriend, but they are actually breaking up with their old tampon/pad.

The act of the commercials is saying that they girls no longer want to use their old tampon or pad because of something that the pad or tampon has done, like bunching, slipping, or just not working in general.

The agent of these videos is girls the same age of the demographic, who aren’t afraid to say what’s on everyone’s mind about tampons or pads that suck.

The agency of the videos is Logos and identification. If something doesn’t work, stop using it and use something else.

The scene of the commercials is familiar situations and familiar outputs. U by Kotex didn’t make these videos look like vlogs on a desktop for no reason. It’s very popular among the demographic to be watching or creating videos of their own that are similar to these commercials. We live in the era of online video vlogs.

The purposes of these videos are definitely to sell the U by Kotex products through empowering girls about their period.

The act of selling a product through identity is nothing new. In the 1970s Virginia Slims’ solution to their economic slump was to use feminism as a sales pitch.

“Cosmetics and fragrance companies wrung their hands at the4 thought that women and girls, fired up by the rhetoric of women’s lib, would simply stop consuming the products they’d been told for years were indispensable…(This fear, in fact, proved to be justified by the end of the decade, with sales of cosmetics and attendance at high-priced salons in a slump.) Their solution was to follow Virginia Slims’ lead and use feminism itself as the sales pitch. Thus women got the Liberated Wool Sweater, advertised by the American Wool Council as “the embodiment of the new freedom.” They got Revlon’s Charlie, a fragrance for “the new woman” launched in 1973; it wasn’t clear what was so new about Charlie’s woman, other than maybe the fact that she sported pants, but the fragrance quickly became a national bestseller. And they got a whole new range of “natural look” cosmetics designed to make them appear bare faced and beautiful. Women could now look makeup-free without having to actually give up makeup-emancipation, cosmetics industry-style.” (Ziesler, 2008, p. 60)

But are these commercials effective? I think so. I use their products. Of course nothing is really “new and revolutionary” about them. But the pads are pretty and the tampons are bright colors. Their overall campaign makes you sit and ponder the “evils” of advertising and if they are doing it so right that it looks good, or if it actually is a helpful campaign for society. On their website they offer a Q&A section to help dispel rumors about your menstruation cycle. Their YouTube videos are safe zones were girls can feel like they can talk about a topic that is normally considered taboo. They even offer a free bracelet to help spread the word that “I Know” what the facts about periods. For their take Action Campaign their mission statement is:

“Get this: Over three-quarters of girls feel like they shouldn’t talk about their vagina or vaginal health in general. More than half of girls say that most girls their age are misinformed about vaginal health.

What is this, the 1950s? Even though we’re living in the 21st century, it’s easy to have negative feelings about our bodies when society is busy building myths and treating vaginas like some crazy big secret.

With Generation Know*, we’re working to put an end to all of that by bringing girls together to drive real social change about one of the most important aspects of being a girl. We believe that when girls have a shared voice, the myths, misinformation and embarrassment lose power. And truth, pride and facts gain strength.” (“Our Mission”, 2012)

Whatever U by Kotex is doing it’s working.

Our Mission. (n.d.). Tampons & Pads – Generation Know – U by Kotex. Retrieved January 24, 2013, from
Zeisler, A. (2008). Feminism and pop culture. Berkeley, Calif.: Seal Press :.

(by Jessica Bunch)

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