You Can’t Say That On Television: Networks Nix The V-Word In Tampon Ads

Earlier this week Kotex released sassy new commercials advertising its pads and tampons — but advertising agency JWT butted heads with three broadcast TV stations that wouldn’t let them say a very naughty, shameful word.

Yes, even though your grandma has seen “The Vagina Monologues,” when it comes to your secret special lady place, TV prefers feminine hygiene commercials use a cutesy euphemism like “down there” instead of saying “vagina.” (And two networks weren’t keen to air an ad referring to a lady’s “down there,” either.) Even though the word “vagina” is not ready for prime time … or day time … or any time, JWT still put together some pretty clever commercials for Kotex. Wise to the fact that kids ages 14 to 21 are extremely media-savvy, Kotex’s new ads mock some of their old ads about period prudery.

The above commercial, for example, pokes fun at “feminine hygiene commercial” conventions like women wearing white jeans and that weird blue liquid pouring onto pads and then asks, “Why are tampon ads so ridiculous?” A print ad even mocks boys’ revulsion toward lady products with a cover line reading, “I tied a tampon to my key ring so my brother wouldn’t take my car. It worked.” Ha!

It’s high time lady-products commercials got a little sassy and it’s so heartening to hear, too, that the Don Drapers behind the ads aren’t dinosaurs. Merrie Harris, Global Business Director for JWT, told The New York Times: “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.” But until broadcast TV gets more comfortable shaking up the status quo, we’ll all be contributing to the stigma — even if we do it unintentionally. [New York Times]

Would you be upset if pad or tampon commercials used the word “vagina”? Let us know in the comments.