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The history of period advertising in New Zealand | On the Rag: Periods

The history of period advertising in New Zealand | On the Rag: Periods


You don’t need to be a scientist or even bleed blue liquid out of your vagina to know that advertising has taught us a lot about periods. That went astray. These days, period ads are all BMX riding and rock climbing, but it hasn’t always been that way. In the 1930s, period propaganda primarily came in the form of terrifying pamphlets. “One of these days, at any hour of the morning or even in the middle of the night, you find coming from you a bloodstained fluid. When this happens, you’re to take from your dresser one of these Kotex pads and wear it with this elastic girdle.” Girdle. In the ’40s and ’50s, it was all about discretion with simple ads and brown paper packaging. By the ’60s and ’70s, pads shed their girdles, freeing woman to stand on any rock formations they pleased. Beltless? I didn’t know there was a beltless napkin in super. There is now. New Stayfree Super Maxi Pads! Then came the halcyon days of the ’80s and ’90s, where TV advertising was still as cool as the ice caps and every bleeder danced in white. For many, these groovy white women were our first encounters with tampons and pads, but which one stuck out the most? I took to the streets to gauge the public opinion. What’s your earliest memory of seeing a pad or a tampon advertised on TV? Honestly, I can’t even remember. I can’t remember either. Oh gosh. What a question. Oh, the ad where that guy dresses up in the tampons and is like (makes noise). Ta-ting! Ta-ting! That one. Yeah that was it and I didn’t actually have a clue what the heck it was about, but I just found the ad hilarious. Or them like dunking it in blue water. “See? It expands!” Okay, yeah. Yeah, what is that blue water? What is that supposed to be? I don’t know. Do I have blue water? The blue was always just like – it felt very weird. Like an alien period. If you were to make a realistic period ad, what would it look like? Oh my gosh. You know what? It would be blaring pain. It would pretty much be like- I don’t wanna like show violence, but it would be like if someone was kicking someone else in the back while pretty much throwing red paint over them. Someone sitting in bed watching Netflix, like eating food. Comfort food for sure. Like pyjamas, like comfiest clothes With a wheat-bag to stop like cramps. Like it’s realistic yeah Collecting menstrual memories on the street, it was clear some ads were more memorable than others. I took my findings to Jill Brinsdon, rumoured to be the first female Creative Director in New Zealand. So Jill, do you wanna start by telling me a little bit about your own experience in the advertising industry? I was 25 or 26. I remember going into a boardroom, and I’m pretty sure in Australia, in Melbourne, I was the only female that had been in that room and hadn’t said, “How do you have your coffee?” They didn’t know what to do with me because I was this chick. They would either try and get me to be one of them, so do that, or they would wait ’til they were alone and then they would tell me how impressed they were with me and then their hand would go onto my knee. Ugh. Try new Carefree Slims, the only tampon with the silk ease cover, making – What kind of research would go into making an ad? So in a global context, they will have done $200,000 worth of the research to find out that women wanna feel safe, for example. So they’ll put on a white outfit because obviously, if she’s wearing a white outfit, she’s safe. She is not gonna bleed out on the white. You know? Or they want to still be active, so then you go, “Oh, well, that’s why everyone that wears a tampon can windsurf or jet ski,” which has always been disappointing to me if I wear a tampon. I can’t do any of those things. No. It’s really gutting because they promised me I could. Okay, well, thought experiment. Yeah. Let’s say that men had periods. What would their ads look like? Well, I think they’d be really dramatic. It would either go, “This is a major issue that we deal with every month, month in, month out. No wonder the period is given to the man, because the man has the gravitas to deal with this. Or it would actually be the opposite, climbing up hills in extreme. You know? They would be called things like Primo and Mega Load. Mega Load. All of the language would change. It would be called the Mega Load tampon. So we’ve come a long way since the whispers of girdles and white linen, but there’s still not that many ads that show us the realities of menstruating and the different kinds of people that menstruate. But at least now, thanks to my super slim, invisible, leak-proof pads with extra wings the only thing I have to worry about is my serve.

1 thought on “The history of period advertising in New Zealand | On the Rag: Periods

  1. only a fat lesbo would think this is a good story to report on. And it takes an even fatter lesbo to actually think, "yes, people want to watch this".

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