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Image / Editorial

The new Tampax ad isn’t ‘vulgar’ or ‘offensive’: it’s basic biology


by Erin Lindsay
20th May 2020
The new Tampax ad isn’t ‘vulgar’ or ‘offensive’: it’s basic biology

The new ad explaining how to properly insert tampons has got some viewers’ knickers in a twist


‘Get them up there girls!’ isn’t exactly the most subtle slogan for a tampon advertisement, but you’ve got to admit it’s effective. The line comes from a new advert from Tampax, staging a mock talk-show, where the host enthusiastically explains to viewers how to properly insert tampons for optimum comfort.

Sounds pretty innocent, right? And it is – the ad is like any other on television. Cheesy, yes. Loud and brash, a little bit. But informative and effective? Definitely. Watch it for yourself:

This seemingly innocuous ad has apparently caused a lot of offense to unsuspecting viewers, many of whom took to the bastion of well-informed opinions that is RTÉ’s Liveline earlier this week.

Host Joe Duffy listened as viewers lamented the advert as ‘offensive’, ‘crude’, and ‘vulgar’. One listener threatened to stop paying their TV license fee if RTÉ continued to show the ad, while another advised that it should only be shown after 10pm.

“There was always a little bit of mystery and a bit of dignity and respect”, a woman called Maggie explained to Joe. She said the ad reminded her of “a crowd of young men inside in a pub and the way sometimes the jeering goes on and making fun of something.”

We need clarity

Straight off the bat, the fact that these listeners want more mystery around basic female bodily functions is concerning. The one thing we do not need more of when it comes to periods and sanitary products is mystery. Young girls and even women desperately need a bit of clarity when it comes to this stuff. If the sex education I received in school is anything to go by, you are given the basics (essentially what periods are, and why you shouldn’t get pregnant) and sent off to figure the rest out on your own.

Women go years without figuring out exactly how their body works and which products are suited to them. This is down to a number of factors – embarrassment, societal stigma, maybe a lack of female role models to turn to to ask questions – but the result at the end is the same; we’re left with millions of grown women who are spending their periods each month in shame and discomfort, all because they are too afraid to ask how to make things better.

Vast improvement

The new Tampax ad’s biggest crime is that it’s a little ham-fisted (poor choice of words, I know, but stay with me). It’s a bit jarring hearing ‘get them up there girls!’ in relation to tampons, but it’s still a vast improvement on any of the other options out there.

The woman in the ad is approachable, friendly, open, and enthusiastic about women being comfortable. The information is clear and the message is easy to remember. If I was a young girl just starting her period seeing that ad on TV, sure, I may act embarrassed, but I’d be delighted to actually hear the information I needed without having to spend another period in unnecessary discomfort.

Periods are no more vulgar or offensive than any other bodily function. We have plenty of ads for diarrhea medication, for incontinence pads, for erectile dysfunction solutions – one ad about tampons isn’t going to send us over the edge.

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