Brilliance in Advertising – The “So Obnoxious” Kotex Tampon Commercial (Plus “Vogue”)

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Like pretty much everybody who dares think of themselves as a friend of mine, I tuned in last night for the return of Glee! And, as expected, it was FABULOUS. If you haven’t watch it yet, who are you? Seriously.

But one of the highlights of the 9:28-10:28 hour came not from Glee itself, but from a commercial that aired during it. At first, it was almost hard to tell if the commercial was actually a commercial or somehow a part of the show. Watch, and you’ll see why:

This commercial was so brilliant that I wanted to buy these tampons.

Okay, maybe not. But, it did make me want to buy those tampons (U by Kotex) more than any other tampon commercial has ever made me want to buy any tampons. Like, I think a lot of guys would feel awkward having to buy tampons for a girl, and I wouldn’t, but if I had to buy tampons for a girl, I would be excited to get to buy these tampons, because if the quality of these tampons in any way resembles the brilliance of their advertising, they are amazing tampons.

I just took a deep breath, and I’m ready to talk about the commercial now.

This is a remarkable commentary on both advertising, race, and patriarchy. Let’s go through it one step at a time, shall we?

Hi, I’m a believably attractive 18-24-year-old female.

See that? Believably attractive. She’s hot, but not too hot. And why 18-24? The market would more realistically look like 12-45, right? Points for superficiality!

You can relate to me because I’m racially ambiguous.

I probably can’t analyze the spokeswoman’s looks without sounding racist myself, but if you think about it, she really is racially ambiguous. She is still white enough to match “flesh-tone” bandaids though, and that’s probably important.

And I’m in this tampon commercial because market research shows girls like you love girls like me.

Who are “girls like you”? In this case, she is talking to the 12-45 crowd! There is a clear distinction to be made between “girls like you” and “girls like me.”

Don’t all these angles make me seem dynamic?

She can kick-box, cheerlead, and blow on a dandelion. She’s both active and delicate! (Women are always delicate. You knew that right?)

Now I’m going to tell you to buy something.

Note the kind of “up the leg” view as she lays on the bed.

Buy the same tampons I use. Because I’m wearing white pants, and I have good hair, and you wish you could be me.

So much for the racially ambiguous. There are extensive commentaries that could be (and have been) written about “good hair” and the racial implications of what “good hair” is and is not. Straight (read: “white”) is still the ideal… we don’t want to see any color in those pants, do we?

Anyways, that brief analysis of the commercial was unnecessary except to demonstrate that this was an extremely effective commercial that appeals to those of us who like to rise above. Haha, I just said “us,” and I’m not even in the market for tampons.

Seeing as how you’ve probably heard enough about tampons for one day, watch the Sue Sylvester “Vogue” video. You know you want to.

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There are 16 Comments to "Brilliance in Advertising – The “So Obnoxious” Kotex Tampon Commercial (Plus “Vogue”)"

  • Buffy says:

    That one’s cute.  The “Reality Check” one is even better.  It sums up how I feel about periods.

    I’m reminded of that one campaign which suggested its products would allow you to Have a Happy Period.  What, did they infuse them with morphine?   No pad is going to make my period happy.    Only better living through chemicals can do that, and even then I’m merely less miserable rather than happy.
    Yeah, when Aunt Flo is visiting, it is a very bad idea to break into a chorus of I Enjoy Being a Girl.

  • Abe says:

    Zack, your play by play is spot on! I actually got up and started clapping about halfway into watching this on TV. My peeps looked at me like a crazy person. I’m not an ad guy but I’m gonna go out and call this a perfect commercial. Hilarious, well-directed, and the commentary is so on point. She had me at “racially ambiguous”. That and she’s gorgeous. We need more socially/racially conscious ads like this, ad execs! I’m considering buying a box just to support this brilliance haha

  • Megan says:

    The “racially ambiguous” part is especially true. I do casting for commercials and print ads sometimes and it’s essential that the model be racially ambiguous.

  • Karen says:

    The bit about “white pants” may not be racial code.  To wear white pants when Aunty Flo visits, you have to be VERY confident in your tampons.

  • ZackFord says:

    Haha, I know that, but I was referring to the symbolism in combo with the hair. Good hair is white hair. Good pants are white pants.

    • Nina says:

      I really don’t get why so many people are getting worked up about this commercial. Good hair could also mean nice hair, whether it be straight or curly. Racially ambiguous simply means that no matter what race you are, you can relate. She looks like she could be a lot of different races. And white pants meaning good pants??? You’re kidding, right? Karen was right. I believe they chose her to wear white pants because you can see colors threw them. Come on ladies. Don’t get on the bandwagon. Sometimes the guys don’t really get it, but surely we do!

  • Hi There!
    I was just browsing the web reading about this commercial and had to stop and say ‘Hi”! Im the “racially ambiguous” actress in this commercial 🙂 Thanks for the support. I dont even know if I broke the copy down that well while we filmed… but I must say- you did an EXCELLENT job!
    I am happy you found it amusing. thanks again for the post,

    • Joe says:

      I do realize how late this reply is, but your commercial is the wittiest that I have ever seen. I got the satiric note from your first words. I just spotted your “gray hair” one a few moments ago!

  • ZackFord says:

    Haha! Fantastic! Thank YOU for lending your racial ambiguity to this brilliant commercial.

  • Lillian says:

    Being racially ambiguous does not define beauty.  The remark regarding good hair is insulting.  This add will make me not want to buy tampons.

  • ZackFord says:

    Lillian… I think the brilliance of the ad comes from its use of irony. It’s making fun of how other commercials try to sell you tampons. If you don’t like what you see in this commercial, that should actually be reason to buy these tampons, I would think.

  • Donny says:

    I have a few problems with this, and a comment above.  First, regarding Megan’s comment about “and it’s essential that the model be racially ambiguous” uhm, excuse me  Megan, that is discrimination, and highly against the law.  You”re admitting you pick people based on their race.  Who is the racist now?  Second, at the end of the commercial, “and you wish you could be me”, is flat out condescending.  That’s telling girls, “I’m better than you and you should know it.”

    And whoever wrote this analysis, there is NO SUCH THING as an “amazing” tampon.  Get a clue.

  • ZackFord says:

    Donny, it’s called irony. Get a clue.

  • tiefling says:

    Donny, if it’s (racial) discrimination to cast for a racially ambiguous actor for a tampon commercial, then it’s (gender) discrimination to cast a woman for a tampon commercial.

    Though, I can’t imagine a tampon commercial being especially effective with a man talking about wearing tampons.

  • strongvirgo says:

    Omg I was watching this commercial last night and I was mad as hell this is a racially based commercial about TAMPONS! That truly shows that who ever is running this media show wants to keep promoting white supremacy…why do whites always need validation by trying to be the standard?

  • Tracey says:

    I just watched this commercial for the first time on this website. I actually was sitting BEHIND my T.V. when it came on and from behind it sounded like some real racist shit. Actually SEEING the commercial calmed me down a little bit, but “I have good hair” and “you wish you were me” being said in the same breath isn’t a good look.

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