You may remember this recent post in which I took issue with Crest’s commercial for its 3D White Arctic Fresh Toothpaste for being stupid and offensive.
Allow me to provide an absolutely kick-ass counterpoint to that epic fail with this commercial for Hello Flo, an American subscription service that ships customized boxes of tampons, pads AND CANDY to your house, each delivery timed with your menstrual cycle in order to arrive each month just before your period starts:
Now THIS is how you sell things to women!
Seriously, so many things about this commercial delight me.
The menstruation demo via ketchup squirt? Hilarious. When the ‘Camp Gyno’ leans over a girl writhing with cramps and says, almost menacingly, “This is your life now”? LOLOLOLOLOL.
Overall, there’s a positive vibe here that’s just great. Being the first person at camp to get her period made this girl important; accordingly, she wears her menarche (yes that’s a word) proudly — going so far as to call it “the red badge of courage!”
I also really appreciate the lack of cutesy euphemisms — instead, we get real language that real people use: period, vagina, menstruation — and I like how, by showing our young hero throwing tampons around hither and yon, this commercial addresses the ridiculous (and wildly heteronormative) hang-up some people continue to have about tampon usage among new bleeders.
For those unfamiliar with this hang-up, the concern is that it’s inappropriate for young girls to use tampons because inserting something into their vaginas = losing their virginity. Or maybe the concern is that, by inserting something into their vaginas, girls may not stay as tight. (Note: THAT’S NOT HOW VAGINAS WORK.)
Finally, I absolutely love that at 0:47, our trusty Camp Gyno hands her peer a mirror so the girl can look at her vagina. I repeat: SHE HANDS HER PEER A MIRROR SO THE GIRL CAN LOOK AT HER VAGINA.
That right there is some Our Bodies, Ourselves-level feminist shit. Consciousness-raising for the win!
Really, this commercial is spot-on (SEE WHAT I DID THERE?!) on so many levels. It combines humour, frankness, body positivity and empowerment.
I even found myself waxing nostalgic about my own first period. (I was 12 years old and I remember smugly thinking to myself that I was now officially a woman. HAHAHA.)
Hello Flo’s debut entry into the menstrual market is somewhat reminiscent of this almost-as-awesome 2012 commercial (which went on to win a Cannes Lions gold prize this June), created for British pad company Bodyform:
It features fake Bodyform CEO Caroline Williams addressing a real-but-very-tongue-in-cheek rant which had been posted on the company’s Facebook wall by a man complaining about the false advertising rampant in menstrual-product campaigns. (Her deadpan delivery is worth a watch. “You forgot horse-riding, Richard.” SO. FUNNY.)
While it gets points for engaging with its consumers and for being clever, Bodyform’s commercial still frames menstruation as something so horrible and gross that it makes grown men cry (or at least, grown men in its fake focus groups). It also suggests that talking honestly about periods is “exposing men to a reality we hoped they would never have to face.”
See, whereas in contrast I’m all about everyone being exposed to the realities of basic bodily functions — men included. Especially if those basic bodily functions relate to fertility and reproductive health. (Knowledge is power, yo.)
That’s why I prefer Hello Flo’s take on the subject. Its commercial acknowledges some of the shitty things associated with periods (HELLO CRAMPS) but it also keeps it real — and shows that for some people, getting your period can actually enhance your life.