By now, most women have seen Wendi Aarons’ infamous open letter to the brand manager of Proctor and Gamble, which circulated through email forwards. Years ago, they came up with a tagline for Always maxi pads: Have a Happy Period. As Aarons put it, “Are you fucking kidding me?” (I couldn’t have said it any better.) How could a man, despite countless hours of research, possibly know what females go through each month for 30-some years? Just like we women will never know how painful it is to get kicked in the nuts, men will never know how awful periods are.*
I am a consumer of Always and I have seen no signs of the ill-conceived “Have a Happy Period” campaign as of late. However, as I gazed at my Always Infinity box this morning, I scratched my head in wonder. I was thinking of Aarons’ letter, as I often do when the cramps set in, and wondered if P&G ever learned their lesson. So I took a closer look at the box in my hand. The first thing I noticed was a random conversation bubble unattached to anything, human or otherwise. The bubble read, “I love how my girlfriends know me so well they can finish my sentences”. Perhaps the marketers at P&G were trying to be clever and not end the sentence with the proper punctuation (they had no punctuation in the English text but did in the French). So my mind filled it in for me, “Period,” I thought. Oh, how clever! Period! Like the tormentor that is currently invading my insides! Ha ha ha!
If this is what they really wanted me to think when I read that bubble – and I really hope it wasn’t – then they are equating periods with my girlfriends. Um, no. Sorry. Not happening. A period is not a friend, just like it is not a happy time in one’s life. Maybe they did intend to put punctuation on the end of the sentence but their proof-reader was just too stupid to realize that sentences needed a full stop, whether or not they are floating in a conversation bubble. If that is such the case, then WTF? Who the hell is talking and what the hell does it have to do with periods? This is almost just as insulting as the alternative. It’s like they’re trying to sympathize but don’t know how to relate to a woman on her period. I can just picture a bunch of suits sitting around a conference table, saying, “Let’s throw in something about girlfriends to make her feel better about all the cramps she’s having!”
Moving on to another side of the box, I came across another conversation bubble that said, “You may even forget you’re wearing a pad”. Again, no punctuation. But more disturbing is that this conversation bubble is pointing to none other than the pad itself. How creepy is that? I don’t want a pad talking to me about what I’m about to do with it. Ugh.
That’s it for the conversation bubbles so to have just two (one disjointed and one from the pad) it seemed rather random. How much thought did the marketing team put into this? In my opinion, not very much. It seemed as if they have the same people designing boxes as they did when they thought up, “Have a Happy Period”, which, by the way, may not be on the box in those exact words, but are there in a sense. Above the talking pad is a line in cursive that reads, “Enjoy being a woman…every day”. AGAIN with the punctuation!
I do enjoy being a woman, thank you very much, but getting to wear an Always pad isn’t one of the reasons why. Plus, the way they emphasized “every day” makes me think that they think that they’re solving one of the many awful problems women have when on their periods. Yes, not having a pillow between my legs is nice, but what have you done for me lately, Always? Do you cure cramps? Mood swings? Deliver chocolate and flowers at the door? I didn’t think so, so quit acting like you’re fucking Superman, here to save Lois Lane from the torments of being a woman.
And get a fucking editor while you’re at it.
*It’s not really a fair comparison as women are guaranteed to have periods – and on schedules, no less! – whereas men’s chances for getting kicked in the nuts is slim (unless, of course, they are around a woman on her period).