Tuesday, May 4

Playing On Periods: Right Message, Wrong Colors

Two years ago, Procter & Gamble (P&G) drew some minor fire for bringing the "Have A Happy Period" to life in 2005. While many women felt put off by the promise of playful bliss from Always, one letter captured the spirit and set the spark of some push back surrounding the campaign.

"What I mean is, does any part of your tiny middle-manager brain really think happiness — actual smiling, laughing happiness — is possible during a menstrual period?" — Wendi Aarons

Never mind that Snopes discovered the letter was never sent to P&G. It resonated for awhile, just not enough for P&G to pull the campaign. They have worked harder to explain the thinking. The Web site clarifies the idea: "Have a happy period? It can't get any worse." Or can it?

The Daily Blonde thinks so. The new ads for colorfully compact Kotex shouts "Oooh! It comes in my color!” as it introduces feminine products that come in yellow, pink, blue, and green. (Hat tip: Krystal Hosmer.)

"I never match my bag and shoes anyway, so there’s not a chance I’m going to coordinate my tampon with ANYTHING." — Cheryl Phillips, The Daily Blonde

So what gives? In 2005, P&G set on a course to turn the period frown upside down. The idea (as Kevin Crociata, brand manager for Always put it) was to aim at "having a little fun with (a period) rather than dreading it so much."

Don't worry. It wasn't just his idea. Patti Gregoline, then senior vice president and executive creative director for Publicis Groupe's Leo Burnett worked on the campaign too. Gregoline, however, didn't work on the color-coordinated line. I'm only mentioning the original campaign to give people a sense of where this all started. (The new ads are by Organic and JWT.)

P&G does understand the issues, as evidenced by an advertisement that makes fun of its past attempts to woo customers.

Unfortunately, for all the sense that the advertisement makes, the product line doesn't make much sense. Well, maybe it does, for what P&G says amounts to 85 percent of women who are embarrassed to be seen with a feminine product.

Basically, the idea is that if it falls out of their purse, they'll feel more comfortable about it because it's a different color.

P&G is close to having it right. The thrust of the Kotex campaign is to stop all the weirdness about periods. I'm all for that. And yet, if there is an irony, the product colors and non-descript cases actually cater to the opposite concept.

There are better options to get over the weirdness. Vinnie once had the corner on cases despite the media's unwillingness to allow him to advertise. And then came the vintage collection. And then the mini-purses.

Sure, I'm hardly an expert. But I've never been afraid to talk or listen to people's take on just about anything. And from what I'm hearing from women, Kotex is thisclose to making the topic less embarrassing, but this far from delivering the right product/campaign combination. Until they do, they'll have a hard time gaining full support for their social media outreach efforts.

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