The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

Awareness vs Meaningfulness …
June 25, 2014, 6:10 am
Filed under: Comment

So like most of my posts, this one is talking about a topic that was discussed and dealt with an age ago, however a while back, this ‘ad’ was doing the rounds and was getting lots of praise from the creative community …

I must admit, when I first started watching it, I was laughing a lot.

And then I saw at the end, it was promoting a real brand and my smile turned to a frown.


Well, for one reason really – I don’t think it’s going to appeal to young girls.

Especially – and potentially exclusively – young girls who have just started their period.

A long time ago, I spent a fascinating year of my life listening to Mum’s and their daughters talk about periods.

While there were a whole range of opinions and learnings, the one thing that really stood out was how the daughters didn’t like to see tampon ads on television, or any medium where they may accidentally see it with their fathers or brothers in the room.

The fact is, for young girls, periods are full of angst, worry and concern … not helped by the plethora of myths, legends and innuendo that exist … so they would rather be spoken to privately than via a medium that screams at everyone.

While you could argue this spot takes the ‘taboo’ out of the issue of periods [which was the excuse was for this ad, even though this was a smarter way of standing out while being resonant], the reality is the only people who would say that are in adland industry because if anyone spent any time understanding what was going on in complicated and conflicted minds of young girls, you too would be left wondering who this ad was aimed at because the last person it’s going to convince is a young girl entering womanhood.


Yes, for an adult.


For a young girl, probably less so.

And if anyone calls it ‘brave’, they’re totally missing the point of our job and the audience.

There is a lot of work that can be, and should be, done in this category … work that can truly challenge category conventions … but the irony is mainstream advertising is probably the last thing you should do because while it appeases the retailers who hold the key to distribution [which I appreciate is also very important], the irony is this approach ends up creating more issues and concerns in the heads of the very people it’s designed to connect with.

And yet I would lay money it will win a ton of creative awards next year.

Says a lot about what we value as an industry.

49 Comments so far
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The surest way to know this won’t resonate with young girls starting their period, or even the mothers of the young girls starting their period, is if 40+ year old men find it amusing. Excellent takedown Robert.

Comment by George

I know the correct description should have been young women, but with 3 daughters, I find it hard to use language that indicates they are getting older and will one day leave the family home.

Comment by George

Did you laugh at it? Is that why you wrote this new age bullshit comment?

Comment by Billy Whizz

no billy, its the mary influence.

Comment by andy@cynic

It is called maturity Andrew. You will discover it eventually.

Comment by Mary Bryant

I believe young women refer to the comment made by my wife as “being owned”. I thought you would like to know Andrew.

Comment by George

but never as owned as youll be.

Comment by andy@cynic

Thanks for making all men look like pedophiles George.

Comment by DH

Good point. Unless they’re intending to talk to 40+ men … which is even more disturbing when I come to think of it.

Comment by Rob

Women don’t suffer periods. Men suffer women’s periods. Fact.

Comment by Billy Whizz

Remind me Billy, are you single?

Comment by Rob

I aslo liked it the first time I saw it because of the avoidance of blue water cliche, but today it just strikes me as incredibly creepy.

Comment by John

Maybe anyone who found it funny is on that louis vuitton sex registry app he wrote about last week.

Comment by DH

Thanks for robbing my single moment of amusement in my shithouse day and replacing it with guilt and disgust. Classic Campbell right there.

Comment by DH

this is his fucking way to prove to jill hes mature enough to be a dad. it could have worked if he didnt step out today wearing a fucking queen tshirt, birkenstocks and a fuck load of wearable bullshit tech on his midlife crisis tattooed arms.

Comment by andy@cynic

Maybe it’s a sign I’ve finally hit puberty too?

Comment by Rob

I know your posts about events typically come out 10 years after they happened, but why do you say this has been discussed ages ago when it only came out 2 weeks back? Take the credit for being semi topical for once, I doubt it will happen again.

Comment by DH

it must be the fucking shock of seeing england and italy play like nottingham fucking forest in the world cup.

Comment by andy@cynic

any fucker laughing at this is laughing at my daughter and ill fucking kill you for it unless you apologise and send her (via me) 1000 bucks.

Comment by andy@cynic

Underneath this comment is a proud, loving father and that makes me really happy. And no, it’s not because I’m going to be joining that club soon and suddenly anything ‘family orientated’ makes me soppy. Well, not everything.

Comment by Rob

and i fucking loathe agreeing with you campbell, but im agreeing with you. its got fuck all about making it less fucking taboo and everything about playing for award jury laughs.

Comment by andy@cynic

As the only person remotely qualified here to comment on the validity of this ad, I will say Andrew’s view about planners now seems entirely justified and I am relieved my husband is no longer one of them, at least within the field of advertising. If you have a daughter, you would know how humiliating and insulting this would be for them.

Comment by Mary Bryant

if i had a job your acknowledgment of my brilliance would let me fucking retire.

Comment by andy@cynic

Thanks Mary … I’m perfectly aware how dodgy it sounds having a 44 year old bloke – who isn’t a Dad – writing about this, so I’m glad I’m not talking total nonsense.

Comment by Rob

You should write more posts like this Robert.

Comment by Lee Hill

I don’t know if this is true or puffery but here’s some background

Comment by John

I would suggest the woman behind this piece of work, and I choose those words specifically, based it all on her adult perspective of how periods should be communicated, not the mindset of young girls entering womanhood. In fact the only thing I agree with her on is that parents leave the discussion about periods too late, but I did not get that was her intention from watching the ad. My opinion has not changed.

Comment by Mary Bryant

Even I’m not fucked up enough to have a party for a daughters coming of age and I’m definitely going to end up a single dad.

Comment by Billy Whizz

Your best comment ever.

So this is the first ad of the company started by the woman behind the ad. Does anyone else smell the distinctive scent of self publicity?

Comment by DH

So the title of this post is especially relevant.

Comment by Bazza

And I agree with you Mary, I didn’t get the idea behind this film was to encourage parents to talk to their daughters about periods before they start having them.

Comment by Bazza

While I knew this ad couldn’t be aimed at young girls, I never realised it was trying to nudge parents into talking to their daughters about periods sooner than they may otherwise do.

Maybe it’s not as bad as I thought … except I didn’t get the message and I’ve watched it a few times.

I can’t help but feel they put their focus on the humour rather than balancing that with the purpose behind the piece.

I understand how that could have happened, because this had to be over-the-top to get the impact they wanted, but it could also be because it’s a PR piece for her newly launched company … though arguably, everything an agency does, is.

Though at the end of the day, asa 40 something man with no kids [yet] … maybe it’s something I was never going to resonate with, but you’d think I’d get what they were trying to say and I seriously didn’t.

Last thing, if this all started because the writer got a letter from a single dad who said he held a period party for his daughter, doesn’t this film basically take the piss out of him for doing that?

And yet she said she thought the story was “sweet”. Confusing.

Comment by Rob

I am a father of 3 daughters. I didn’t get their message. Good point about the single father too.

Comment by George

I laughed. But if I was the 13 y/o version of me, I wouldn’t.


Comment by Jemma King

So I wake up after a late night watching England and Italy bow out of the World Cup and see a plethora of comments. Either I’m still asleep or everyone has become very interested in young girls periods … which sounds way more disturbing than I intended.

Comment by Rob

What a misguided load of shite. One of your better posts.

Comment by Ciaran McCabe

That sounds like a description of the majority of my posts Ciaran. Nice to have you pop by though.

Comment by Rob

Good comments. All on topic. What has happened to this blog?

I saw this last week and laughed but then, like you Rob, I became confused when I realised it wasn’t a spoof but an actual ad. I read the creators justification for it and some of her points were fair but where her argument falls down is that the message she claims she is conveying doesn’t come through at all.

I showed it to Sarah (who spent 10 years researching teen health issues) and she agrees with you. She did say parents are notoriously late in discussing periods with their daughters, but this piece of communication won’t encourage them to change that behaviour because they won’t realise there is a message behind the humor.

Her actual words were, “it feels like it was written by some people who want to write an episode of community”.

Comment by Pete

The other thing that continues to bewilder/annoy me about that interview that I found last night is that it was conducted by a networking organisation for professional women and yet the write-up is filled with “jokey” references to flow etc.

Kids treat bodily functions with juvenile humour – adults should know better.

Comment by John

Good point. Targeting parents [which I didn’t really get either, but that’s a different point] with language that is the last thing they should do if they really want to connect with their kids.

All a bit confusing. I agree that the category is ripe for a new approach, but I question if this is how to do it given it seems designed for industry applause not helping young women feel less conflicted about a very powerful time in their life.

Comment by Rob

That’s right. Address the issue, not your prejudices/conditoning. I’m reminded of this guy doing just that.

Comment by John

Excellent comments
I have a little girl so this stuff really bugs me
I hate stuff obviously intended for awards stuff therefore this bugs me
On the subject of periods my wife had them all wrong . Once a month she’s nice to me

Comment by Northern

I didn’t realize calling yourself northern was because you wished to mimic a 1970’s working mens club comic. Roy Chubby Brown would applaud your “once a month, nice to me” joke. Your wife is less likely to.

Comment by George


Comment by Northern

And please don’t speak for my wife thank you. She can speak for herself (how very un-1970’s working mens club of me, sorry about that)

Comment by Northern

Great post Rob –

Personally, I think it’s a tad too cynical to think it was crafted for the awards (it actually ran and is doing good commercial work for the business after all).

But it will win awards, and the hard part is that it’s very close to being very good. Imagine a mother motivated out of an ernest over concern for normalizing the experience and empathizing with their daughter. You could still do the award-y set pieces. You could still do the First Moon Party. You’d just have a mother doing it for trying too hard to shape the world for their kid instead of deliberately humiliating them. The revelation would’ve been for the mother and the daughter (“Oh God I’m humiliated” and “Oh God I’ve humiliated her”). And the value prop would’ve been two fold: Prepare your daughters. Save yourself.

It just seemed to have missed that double check on what it was meaning to mean instead of meaning to do.

I keep thinking this is an agency power/process problem. If this had been a film or a show with the same goal and a half decent director, some actor would have said “I don’t understand why I’d do something this cruel to my daughter” and the director would’ve said “shit she’s right, why would somebody want to do the thing (buy HelloFlo) that a sadistic, manipulative mother does to her young daughter?” But once a things been scripted and storyboarded and sold I’m not sure agencies actually have a function that wold allow for a course-correct in this kind of situation. The people thinking are too far away from the doing.

Comment by itsbdell

The day I got my first period I locked myself into my room and didn’t get out for days. My mom and dad brought me flowers and I remember feeling even more embarrassed and confused. Fast forward about 25 years later and I am still embarrassed when watching ads with tampons and pads with my dad.

Comment by Ivana

whatever the fuck you do ivana, dont agree with campbell again or youre not welcome back.

Comment by andy@cynic

[…] Some time again I wrote a submit about an organization that was making an attempt to remove the taboo regarding periods. […]

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