The new ad for Kotex's "U" brand of tampons has created something of a storm this week. Rated M, it features a young woman on a day out with her furry, cartoonish pet beaver, with the catchphrase "You only have one/For the ultimate care down there".
The Advertising Standards Bureau received a "large number" of complaints after it was first aired on Sunday night, and there have been calls for the campaign to be pulled. I am glad to see, however, that the ads remain on air, at least for the moment.
I thought this ad was a cute and inventive way to advertise tampons. Certainly a lot more engaging that those old ones featuring women swimming, or playing tennis, or riding bicycles, because their tampons just make them feel so free and active. Or that recent Libra Fleur one where the dumb boyfriend was using the tampons as dangly temptations for the pet cat. What was that all about?
Quite frankly, I think people need to lighten up a lot about vaginas. For some reason, while the penis is widely accepted and admired, vaginas still seem to scare people. They seem particularly upset but what is really just a natural function of that part of the female anatomy. Surely the playful comparison to a beaver is fairly harmless? Surely viewers would be a bit more squeamish about a tagline like - "You bleed from the vagina, so use Sphagnum-Brand Super-Absorbo-Pads!"
Imagine if an ad for a personal men's cream or similar product featured a man on a day out with his friendly "trouser snake". They'd laugh together, have a meal, perhaps enjoy a Jessica Alba movie. Would the catchphrase "Because every man needs to look after his trouser snake" offend people as much? Somehow, penises are more socially acceptable than vaginas, despite the fact that they continue to be uglier and far more basic in design.
I can think of half a dozen ads for various deodorants or mens' magazines that I find ten times more offensive than the Kotex beaver ad.
I get the feeling those people complaining about this ad may have the view that ladies don't "talk" about "those sorts of things". Well, you know what? I'm proud to have a beaver, and I'm sure it would love to receive a gift of Kotex anyday. After all, have you seen the cost of tampons lately?