Category Archives: feminine hygiene industry

How about a viral campaign for…masculine hygiene products?

It’s all marketing.

Marketing sanitary towels toward women – easy.

Let’s give these advertisers a real challenge, though – try aiming them at men.

We dare ya.

Skids.

…About Skids. They don’t really exist – sorry. We can’t really condone more disposable products anyway, and at least underwear is washable. This isn’t really a scatalogical campaign – it’s mainly about showing up feminine hygiene ads for what they are.

If you’ve seen the Skids ads, they should have looked familiar to you. The language, imagery and style are all in keeping with tampon and maxi-pad adverts through the ages. Euphemism-laden, soft-focused and coy, these ads have influenced cultural taboos. Despite the potential of new media to break the cycle, these same old techniques and lazy stereotypes are beginning to infiltrate feminine hygiene product websites and social networking sites as well.

In light of this, we reckoned sometimes the only way to beat ’em is to join ’em. We created the ad campaign to point up some classic conventions that only jump out at you when the situation is reversed. So the next time you see a feminine hygiene ad, think twice.

By the way – it is in no way our intention to mock people who have incontinence.

We’d like to say a big thank you to the guys who (mostly) willingly agreed to pose for the print ads (you know who you are), the pros at Cakebread Illustrations who helped us do the spoof site, and Juma Print in Sheffield for the print ad shenanigans and bemused continual support.

Oh yeah – we do a live commercial for Skids in the sketch show – after one gig some guys came up to us and said ‘We really felt you understood our embarrassment! We felt so included!’  Never thought we’d hear that in response to a comedy sketch show about menstruation.

Like we always say – our stuff is for menstruators and non-menstruators alike.

(Reprinted from our page that clicking all the links on the Skids site eventually brings you to. It’s a bit like a Choose Your Own Adventure in Menstruating.  It seemed apt.)

Advertisements

Happy Earth Day!

Just found this cloth pad wiki and thought it’d be nice to share a reusables resource for Earth Day.

We went to a cloth pad workshop in Edinburgh and learned how to make a few different styles. I sew about as well as I cook, but I gave it a good old go.

It was a vision in red stars and flannel. Actually, there were a lot of colours available, but I went red pattern crazy.

That’s not a recent affectation, by the way.

This was my favourite book when I was little.

March, March, March

March birthdays are like blog posts – you wait around for ages and then three come along at once. So here’s a big long birthday postscript-post  to make up for the lack of  updates lately.

On Sunday I got bagel-coffee-and-cupcaked by my lovely wife, who also further enabled my chart-loving geekitude by getting me this awesome piece of work:

and Sarah’s mom, whose birthday is the day before mine, posted me this amazing Shipping Forecast* t-shirt:

which I wore to bed Sunday night, and may well wear at a gig sometime soon. See, I like all kinds of charts – not just menstrual cycle ones. (I’m also a big fan of the Venn diagram.)

We digested the birthday breakfast and read the charts on the way down to Oxford for the lit fest, where we met this lovely gentleman. (Our mission for the day was to give away free zines, and we ended up working out a trade for some whiskey, so that was awesome, too. Those who know me know I’m always up for zine trades, and now…those who don’t know me know it as well.) Anyway, this kind fellow was working for the festival and I offered him a zine. He thanked me and stuck it in his pocket, with the title showing, which was pretty darn cool. I asked him if he’d mind if I took a picture for my blog, and he said, “I have three daughters. There is nothing about menstruation that freaks me out.”

Word, my friend. Word.

We had fun times all round (most likely due to the zine-whiskey trading) and I had four zines left as we all headed to the train station, so I decided to deposit the last four in various bike baskets among those at the rafts and rafts of awesome bicycles at the station bike racks.

I figured cycles…cycles…whatevs. That was the sum total of my thought process. Sorry. Whiskey.

Anyway, if you received a zine at the festival, or if you found one in your bike basket, hello! I’m Chella, and I’ll be your weird secret zine santa today. Hope you stick around!

In other news, I was lucky enough to have two pieces of my writing published around the internets on my birthday.

Here’s the Menstruation for Sale article at Girlfuture.com (it’s a brand new webzine for right-on teens that happened to have launched on my bday).

And I also had a  review up on Feminist Review blog. Speaking of FR, it was also Mandy Van Deven’s birthday this week. She edits Feminist Review, as well as writing like a demon everywhere else that’s cool and feminist. Her birthday appeal goes a long way to explaining what she’s achieved with FR, and I was really psyched when she invited me to write for FR after my zines were reviewed on the site. If you can spare some cash to help them/us out, that’d be grand. More details can be found at the I ♥ FR Campaign.

Today’s link (rather than recaps from earlier in the week like a lame clips episode of your favourite ’80s sitcom)  is a shout out to Travel Queeries on a Danish blog that’s new to me and looks pretty cool. Birthe, the editor of Feminine Moments, saw the review on Feminist Review and contacted me to see if she could quote it. So, ya see? Valuable resource right there is all I’m sayin’.

Right, it’s all gone a bit meta so I’m gonna say goodnight. Thanks, as always, for all the support.

xChella

*You can listen to the Shipping Forecast here. It is just as useful a navigational tool if you are literally at sea as if you are metaphorically at sea.

Introducing…

To mark the end of New York and London Fashion Weeks, and in honour of fashion weeks everywhere, I bring you our new campaign.

Since the beginning of the feminine hygiene industry, companies have tried to sell their products to us by using the fear of leaking blood through our clothes, leaving a huge stain and even huger shame.

From ‘certain-safe’ Modess pledging to protect us from ‘striking through’ in 1935, to today’s LeakLock®, Four Walled Protection®, Clean SorbTM Cover, and the physics-defying Always Infinity®, fear has always been a factor.

Today, companies are taking it a step further from reality by giving their products names that sound like clothes to ensure that we’ve got leaking on our minds from the start. SkirtsTM, PearlsTM, BraidsTM, SilkTM? It’s as if without these products we’ll be naked, which in London in February is not a good plan.

But we say: enough of the subliminal sabotage. Today, Adventures in Menstruating is gonna go one better. We’ve got a way to undermine this sort of feminine hygiene ad once and for all. We’re gonna debunk, demystify and disempower leakage fear by turning the stain into an object of desire.

An object of beauty.

High fashion.

Clot couture.

Too gross? Ok don’t panic. We don’t believe you need to use real blood to reclaim.

Let’s call it Leak Chic.

Introducing…StainsTM. A removable stain to wear on your own clothing as you see fit. A fashion statement that really says something, and that something is, ‘Screw you, Madison Avenue. I’m taking this one back. I’m wearing my heart on my sleeve and my blood on my pants. I’m gonna reclaim the stain, reclaim my blood, and reclaim my period.’ Because people, I’m telling you red is the new black.

Introducing our new fashion line (and possibly the only fashion line ever brought out by a zine) featuring the only logo no other company will try to steal.

So, doesn’t matter what gender you are or whether you menstruate or not – just for goofs. Goofs and solidarity, please join us by adding a stain to your stylings. Copy or download the pattern above, affix to your clothing in any medium you like (iron-on, felt cut-out, screen print, stencil…) and remember that the best defence against leaks and stains is a healthy dose of shamelessness.

Menstrual Marsupial Peripherals

I’ve been meaning to post this since the start of the summer, actually – for our first anniversary we got a lovely parcel from our friend Cal – mooncup pouches made by an etsy seller called Lovealittle.

Sarah likes hers because it’s got a distinctive shape and she can find it in her bag – like mouthfeel for hands. (Handfeel? Is that already a word?)


I like mine because it doesn’t look like anything else, and it’s really eye-catching so people may ask what it is (and promptly be told). Feminine hygiene really does not have to be discreet.

Skids Pads, Viral Ads…and AWESOME comments sections.

I have a minor addiction to the Guardian G2 Shortcuts section and quick crossword. Yes, they’re available online, but as a zine writer, I need it in print form. Today’s dose included Kira Cochrane’s account of a viral ad campaign about masculine hygiene products by, um, one of my competitors. It’s getting a bit freaky how closely feminine hygiene product advertising seems to be echoing our comedy sketches lately. Have we tapped into the zeitgeist? Or are their marketing departments just very thorough? If it’s the latter, “Hi there, marketing department researchers. Thanks for stopping by. I think.” (Waves nervously.)


I did these ads for the launch of issue 3 of Adventures in Menstruating, and they’ve been around ever since at our live comedy shows, which feature various riffs on ‘pads for men’ ads.



You may enjoy my own contribution to the viral internet canon, which, like the other Skids stuff, went live in August 2007. Thanks to Cakebread Illustrations for offering to make the website after seeing our show in Berlin. Stay tuned for further additions.


In the meantime, please enjoy the fantastically hilarious comments on today’s G2 article. Now Mooncup really know how to do viral.




Time flies. Issue 4 is due another reprint, and we’re back in Berlin on 18 July.


-Chella

Actually, I AM having a happy period, thank you very much…

Well, I am. The Always campaign has been lambasted in a McSweeney’s open letter blog post and the subsequent round of email fwds on the mom and third degree of separation friend circuit, but I actually am having a happy period.

By this I mean that my period is flowing nicely, no hiccups (I mean that figuratively, but now I’m beginning to wonder how a literal menstrual hiccup would manifest itself…), no leaks, the cramps provided a reliable rhythm throughout the day like a small and temperamental Volkswagon Beetle, and I was in a good mood.

I was teaching a drama class today, and a girl got ‘that’ panicked look on her face and asked to speak to me away from the other kids. She said, ‘Can I go to the toilet? I think I’ve just come on.’ Without batting an eye, and particularly cheerfully (because I was actually having a happy period), I replied, ‘Oh, yeah, no problem. Do you need a pad?’ She was really cool about it and when she walked back into the room she didn’t do the ‘slinking back from running to the toilet’ walk – she held her head high.

So, yeah, despite major difficulties with the ebb and flow that many women often have, there are some people who generally don’t suffer too much, and could be persuaded that periods are kinda fun, and even funny. So…the Always campaign agrees with me – on the surface. This didn’t sit too well with me, so I looked at their website and tried to work out what they were getting at.

The e-cards (did they read Adventures in Menstruating #3?) give the game away – apparently, having a happy period means excusing away sexist, stereotypical behaviours (eating chocolate, shopping, and acting bitchy) in a spectacular body image/capitalist/alpha female triple whammy.

This is a campaign that initially appears to be pro-menstrual normalisation and celebration but could do a lot of harm either way you look at it:

  • Some women think it’s cute and positive, and use the website and the e-cards and it’s a barrel of monkeys. Many of these women then go on to buy the product they’ve developed an affinity for and get sucked further into the disposable pad market.
  • Other women become uproariously irritated, rail against the notion that periods are in any way a ray of sunshine, and back this up with a litany of all the things that are unpleasant about periods. They boycott the pads but propogate the notion that women are victims who suffer from periods and unwittingly support other women to seek out the allegedly panacea-like pads.

So it seems the tagline itself is the only redeemable notion.

Except…

The problem with saying ‘Have a Happy Period’ is that when Always says it, it’s about as sincere as when any other multi-national corporation says anything. Their next question may as well be, ‘Do you want wings with that?’

We have plenty of nice days, but we, as a people, don’t like to be told to have a nice day. Always could be promoting the notion that for some people, periods don’t need to be a negative experience EVERY month, but instead they are taking ownership of the good times we have with our periods.

It’s my birthday tomorrow, so I’m anticipating that the happy period times will continue.

The video ads are mesmerising though, and I quite like the graphic design version of the improv game of props going on with the pads as shoes and boats and things, but Red Dwarf did it first and best.

Still curious about the hiccups.

Chella