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Archive for the Advertising Category

Periods are a fact of life for women, and as a woman I have come to embrace mine. Like the seasons it tells me where I'm at, a benchmark letting me know everything is working the way it should for a healthy 24-year-old woman. I hate the fact that I need to keep my period to myself, I don't want to scream it to the rooftops but I wish it was less taboo. I hate feeling like need to sneak to the bathroom with my purse when I need to change my tampon or open my Midol bottle in my purse to disguise what I'm taking; it's bullshit and borderline oppressive (which is why I do a pretty half-assed job sneaking to the bathroom or opening the Midol bottle).

Anyway you frame it, women are always made to feel as though they must suppress the more human parts of themselves (we don't fart, we don't burp, we cover imperfections with make-up, holster our breasts lifting them to societies standards and we certainly don't bleed). Don't get me wrong, I LOVE being a woman but sometimes this box of lady-like-ness is exhausting. Kotex and the folks over at JWT must have felt the same way, because the new campaign for U by Kotex taps into this sentiment.

The Myth

YouTube Preview ImageMost ads for menstruation products are actually pretty effective. They show an active, happy woman in a white outfit, they allude that she has her period and uses pastel colored products covered in flowers during her period selling us(women) an idea1 . We buy the idea that we too could be that happy and unafraid of wearing white during our periods. Because we buy the idea we buy the product. Unfortunately by the time our period is over with we realize that idea we bought, is nothing close to our reality -- no amount of feminine hygiene products can make us stop bleeding 4 days out of every month.

Our Reality

YouTube Preview ImageWe can't change the fact that we get our periods, but we can change our attitudes towards it. With a target audience of 18 to 21-year-old women2 the U by Kotex campaign slogan "break the cycle" is not only a great pun, it speaks to a much larger issues in our culture including womens' lack of education about menstruation, society's fear of menstruation, and apprehension to talk about womens' issues as a whole. While the print and broadcast ads focus on luring young women in with witty, sarcastic and satirical commentary about menstruation products, the aim of the website is to educate these women about their periods.

Breaking the Cycle

What U by Kotex does really well is establish a distinct difference between myth and reality. Both the Reality Check and the So Obnoxious broadcast ads (seen above) paint all other menstruation product ads as dispensers of unrealistic ideas about what menstruation is (or rather what it could be if you used their product). Enter U by Kotex. Kotex acknowledges the myth we all bought into then invites us to rethink our relationship with our feminine hygiene products.

Next Kotex takes charge re-educating us with their U by Kotex website takes charge. This is a website built on facts. The homepage carousel cycles through facts about periods such as:

  • "79% of girls don't see what dancing in white dresses has to do with periods."
  • ..."83% of girls are uncomfortable talking to their parents about periods"
  • ..."85% of girls are afraid to be seen with a tampon"

Upon digging deeper on the site you'll find a page full of statistics titled "It's time to Break the Cycle" about women and their feelings/thoughts towards vaginal health and menstruation. Fueled by a survey of 1,607 North American women between the ages of 14 and 353, these stats do two things.

Firstly, they inform. Based on these statistics I personally think our culture has a long way to go before we're at an acceptable place when it comes to understanding the vaginal health of women. I believe most women who read these stats would not be surprised at the results the survey yielded, instead I think they would be more surprised that anyone bothered to bring up the matter of vaginal health or menstruation at all.

Most women claim to be knowledgeable about vaginal health issues,
but more than 1/3 cannot dispel some basic myths.

Secondly reading statistics such as the one above levels the playing field, we can all stop pretending we have our vaginal health under control and admit the more we talk the more we'll learn.

One insight to rule them all

Anyone could have created an advertising campaign based on assumptions, in fact that is what feminine product advertisers have been doing for years. Assuming all women feel disgusted by their periods (or themselves while on their periods) and therefore wrapping products in pastel colors and flowers selling women the idea of of beauty and being carefree while enduring a monthly reminder of their womanhood.

In actuality, this assumption isn't entirely incorrect. According to Kotex's study approximately 47-67% of women say they feel dirty when they have their periods4. This statistic would be a great insight if it wasn't absolutely devastating that a majority of women feel dirty once a month because of something completely natural. Rather than moving forward with an insight is hinged to women feeling poorly about themselves Kotex's survey digs deeper and really gets to the heart of what is going on when it comes to vaginal health, menstruation and advertising.

Women are frustrated, but not with their periods – seven out of ten (70%) women agree
that it’s about time society changes how it talks about vaginal health issues. Women are
insulted by blue liquid advertisements and snarky jokes, and they are tired of skirting
around honest discussions regarding a natural, normal, and healthy process.5

Great advertising campaigns are built on insights surrounding a target demographic like the one above. Kotex did their research and delivered a campaign that answers the desires of their demographic to stop pussy-footing around vaginal health issues and get real.

Why I LOVE this campaign

When it comes down to brass tacks this campaign does the same thing all other feminine hygiene products ads do, it sells an idea. Where this campaign differs is in the type of idea that it sells. This campaign has nothing to do with feeling better while you have your period it's about feeling better about your period and your self while you have your period. It's about ending our censorship6 of women's health issues to obtain a greater good and the ideas put forth in this campaign move towards affecting a larger social and cultural change. In a way the idea this campaign sells is that women shouldn't need to feel embarrassed by the very things that make them women...their vaginas! I love this campaign for the same reason I love Eve Ensler: both acknowledge that having a vagina does not make you less, nor should it strip you of power, your entitlements or respect -- instead it simply makes you woman and that's a beautiful thing.

  1. Check out this Mother Nature ad for an idea of what I'm talking about: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a3kugHmbNgQ []
  2. "The new line primarily caters to women from 14 to 21." - Rebelling Against the Commonly Evasive Feminine Care Ad by Andrew Adam Newman for the New York times. Written 03-15-2010. Retrieved 04-20-2010. []
  3. Break the Cycle: A Study on Vaginal Health (page 6) []
  4. "Women with low-esteem are more likely to think of their vaginal area as ugly (58% vs. 29%) and to feel dirty when they have their period (67% vs. 47%)." -- It's time to Break the Cycle []
  5. Break the Cycle: A Study on Vaginal Health (page 3, paragraph 5) []
  6. "Merrie Harris, global business director at JWT, said that after being informed that it could not use the word vagina in advertising by three broadcast networks, it shot the ad cited above with the actress instead saying 'down there,' which was rejected by two of the three networks. (Both Ms. Harris and representatives from the brand declined to specify the networks.)

    'It’s very funny because the whole spot is about censorship,' Ms. Harris said. 'The whole category has been very euphemistic, or paternalistic even, and we’re saying, enough with the euphemisms, and get over it. Tampon is not a dirty word, and neither is vagina.'" - Rebelling Against the Commonly Evasive Feminine Care Ad by Andrew Adam Newman for the New York times. Written 03-15-2010. Retrieved 04-20-2010. []

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I was recently purusing an awesome blog called Steal Our Ideas (it's really amazing, I suggest checking it out), when I came across this idea for an ad that I absolutely loved:1

Diesel Ad Idea: You Will Never Be This Awesome

I think the reason I loved this piece is that it really spoke to me as a social commentary about fashion advertising. While Diesel's advertising2 does not "take itself too seriously"3 so much of fashion advertising is about selling an idea or a persona. While this sometimes is effective, as I ride the subway and walk down the streets of NYC I find myself turned off by most of the fashion advertising I see. I will never be the person in that ad, and I don't aspire to be. The models in these ads are so beautiful that they're ugly, but even beyond that I would argue that the attitude and lifestyle they portray is one I don't wish to call my own.

Here are a few examples:

ad_ocean-drive-200309

American Apparel Ad

Let me put it this way, the summer I interned in NYC between junior and senior year of college, I lived with a Ukranian stripper (it was accidental...she said she was a bartender on Craigslist)-- anyways she owned one of these mesh dresses, and I hope I never need to.

dg_girl_down

Dolce & Gabbana

Can anyone say gang bang? I mean really, this add is about power and possession, 5 men surrounding one woman -- who just happens to be forcefully pinned down. As a man I wouldn't want to be the men, because really who wants to share something (that's right, the woman has been completely objectified by this ad) that's been around the block 5 times in such a short period -- as a woman I don't want to be there because...well...I don't really have the desire to be gang banged. Common D&G sexy does not equal gang bang, no matter how well lit and composed a photo is.

tom_ford_10

Tom Ford

Dear Tom Ford, No I will not iron your pants, especially if you're reading the paper -- if you have time to read the paper, you have time to iron your own pants. No Tom, I most certainly will not iron your pants naked, its dangerous, especially if your legs are so long that the elevation of your lady parts falls at the same elevation as the iron. I like men in nice suits just as much as the next girl, but I like those men even more when pretentious advertising that objectifies and demeans women4 doesn't appeal to them. Oh yeah...and if they can iron their own pants it's a big plus in my book.

Summary

I get that sex sells, and I get that people want to feel sexy...these are things we all know. At the same time as a young woman who occupies a job that a woman would have rarely occupied 50 years ago, it would be nice to look at the ads produced by the fashion industry and not feel like I have to take a step down and back in time when pursuing fashion. American Apparel5 makes great basic clothing items, D&G is one of the biggest bad ass fashion brands out there and Tom Ford designs great modern suits for men. If being awesome means partaking in what is portrayed by these ads, sorry fashion brands....you're right...I'll never be that awesome.

  1. The text beneath this image reads: "The fashion world takes itself way too seriously, but Diesel is an exception. They have done a remarkable job mixing humor and sexiness.  ”You’ll never be this awesome.” is a confident and self-deprecative strategy that speaks to the unattainable beauty of the fashion industry. " - via the Steal Our Ideas blog []
  2. I would argue that Diesel has had its fair share of advertising that objectifies women and is ultimately douchey []
  3. as the Steal Our Ideas blog states []
  4. To see more Tom Ford Ads like this one (and this isn't the worst one visit: http://spynet.ru/photos/12507-glamurnaja-fotosessija-ot-toma-forda-18.html []
  5. More American Apparel ads are available here: http://americanapparel.net/presscenter/ads/ []

The other day I was watching TV and I saw the following commercial for Bacardi Mojito.

YouTube Preview Image

On top of being a really excellent commercial about timelessness and tradition, I was really impressed by the appropriateness of the music selection. A simple piano melody, a really great beat, a song that could meld with any of the eras depicted and sounded cool...you simply cannot go wrong with that.

After the commercial was over I walked to my computer and ran a Google search to find what song was used for the commercial. I found my answer on Adtunes.

Adtunes is an ad music website that serves as a guide to music used in television commercials, TV shows, movie trailers, film soundtracks, video games and more.

The song in the Bacardi Mojito commercial is by Matt & Kim and is called Daylight. Beyond finding my answer I also discovered some more cool music that I've heard and enjoyed before (but didn't know the name of) like Penguin Cafe Orchestra's Perpetuum Mobile. Go check out Adtunes, there's some awesome content on the site.

I recently came across a new iPhone game called Parra Plays. The design of the application was really intriguing because of its simple design and flat shapes. It seems that most iPhone application designers prefer to add more dimension to their designs. Naturally I had to download this application to see what the rest of it looked like. I was surprised to find that the application was released by Incase, a company that makes cases for Apple products.

What the application does

The application contains three mini games inside:

Poppers It’s like a touch screen version of “Whac-A-Mole.” Touch the clouds before they pop! Sounds easy enough, right? Keep playing…

Parrot Loosely based on “Simon Says,” but with a twist. You think you can break 100? Yeah right!

Pairs Very similar to the classic “Memory” card game. Uncover the matching cards. The faster you do it, the better your score!

What's great about this application

I should preface this by saying I'm not a gamer, but for me these mini-games were casual, engaging and charming. The design was simple and well executed. It's clear some thought went into the sound design (and the sound adds a lot of value to the game). What was most impressive to me was that without any direction or indication of what to do I was able to pick up the game and immediately figure out how to play.1 I love the simplicity of this application.

Great example of a branded application

This application is part of a larger project called Curated by Arkitip that collaborates with artists/designers to create embellished cases for Incase.2  In addition to being able to purchase some awesome cases, the website allows its visitors to download wallpapers, videos, icons and other content. The Parra Plays application is a great example of how downloadable content from a brand can be extended to the iPhone.

By placing Parra's design on the iPhone in game form, Incase breathes life into graphics which are still and inactive. It is also able to extend its reach to users who didn't know Incase's curated by Arkitip project existed (like myself). Unlike a lot of other branded applications, this applications primary objective appears to be fun. It's a refreshing example of how branded iPhone applications can be fun, engaging, and a great ambassator for it's brand.

  1. I think this probably is due to the simplicity of the game. If you only have a bunch of shapes in front of you and some of them are changing colors, there's only so many game play options available []
  2. "Curated by Arkitip is a project designed for Incase, aimed at delivering artistically embellished Apple® products to users who have an appreciation for the creative arts and technology. All artists are carefully chosen by Arkitip for dedication to their respective art forms and unique points of view." -via Incase curated by Arkitip []
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