Growing up I was always embarrassed for the women who acted in tampon commercials. Now I think it would be a great gig for me. I could be the friend who’s laughing in the background while some upbeat ‘70s song that was easy to get rights for blasts over a montage of a girl’s night out and then I’d turn to the camera and say confidently, “It’s for my comfort.” But not every tampon commercial is like that. Here are the 5 types of tampon commercials.
The “I’m not a regular tampon commercial, I’m a cool tampon commercial” tampon commercial
This Kotex commercial straight-up apologizes for their tampon commercials, while poking fun at their competitors. We get a Janeane Garofalo type telling us that, basically, periods aren’t all that and it’s, like, totally okay to reject the woman running on the beach motif and the twirling in slow motion trope. It’s pretty funny but I feel they ruin it at the end with the obvious tagline “WHY ARE TAMPON COMMERCIALS SO RIDICULOUS?” because it’s like, oh man, you just crossed over into the ridiculous.
The “we’re going to be clinical about this” tampon commercial
This commercial from 1980 isn’t ready to admit it has anything to do with actually having a period, so instead we’re treated to a woman in a kitchen in a white tennis outfit, with a sweater slung casually over her shoulder, talking about how their tampons are “proven by doctors’ supervised tests.” At the end of the commercial she takes the sweater, ties it around her shoulders, perhaps to distract us that she’s talking about tampons, looks directly into the camera, says “fabulous!” and swings a tennis racket. Presumably she is on her way play tennis at a country club where she is absolutely, positively, not having her period. Freeze frame. And you’re thinking, this is the weirdest episode of Family Ties I’ve ever seen.
GRADE: C with a B+ for unintentional entertainment value
The “we think is how women feel about their periods” tampon commercial
Picture this: a group of male executives in a room, maybe some of them are drunk, all of them want to go home.
“So…women use tampons because they like…do ballet, right? And like…stretch a lot? Right?” “Sure.”
“Okay, great, so let’s set this in a locker room, or maybe backstage at a ballet thing, or maybe we can combine them, and we’ll have a bunch of women in the background doing ballet shit.”
“Yeah, obviously, Johnson. They’re going to be doing all kinds of stretches.”
“Will they be wearing leotards?”
“Are you fucking stupid? Of course they’re wearing leotards.”
“Guys, how ‘bout this: she actually says the word ‘period.’”
“Holy shit, can we do that?”
“Gentlemen, this is 1985. ALF is on television. It’s time to take some risks.”
“We’re gonna win so many fucking awards for this.”
“Sir, I know the perfect woman to cast. Did you see Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Dancing In The Dark’ music video on MTV?”
“Are you fucking stupid? Of course I saw that video.”
“Remember the girl dancing with Springsteen? Bubbly, cute hair?”
“I see where you’re going with this. I love it. Call her agent, see if she’s available.”
And that’s the story of how Courteney Cox landed the very first tampon commercial to use the word “period.”
The “we’re going for something experimental here, kind of like an episode of Pete and Pete as directed by Wes Anderson” tampon commercial
So here’s a new one. 1. It’s like a short film 2. It’s for a tampon delivery service 3. It stars a girl right around the age most girls get their periods 4. It tells a story 5. It’s genuinely funny. I dare you to watch this The Adventures of Pete and Pete meets Wes Anderson production and not smile at least once. Which of course means that now you’ll watch it and say, “I didn’t smile once” and I’ll give you a sarcastic slow clap and roll my eyes and fuck your dad. I mean wait, what?
The “We got a sinking feeling when we storyboarded this but it was too late” tampon commercial
There are just way too many things going on here. A spoof of the fashion industry. A literal “Mother Nature” with a literal “monthly gift.” British people. It’s all too much and the humor falls flat. I really hope when creative got the storyboard back they realized this was a terrible idea, but the client really liked it, so they had no choice.
BONUS: The South Park Cherokee hair tampon commercial