Kotex rejects visit from ‘old Aunt Flo’

Feminine hygiene advertising is stuck in the 1950s, says the Kimberly-Clark brand, as it introduces U by Kotex with a modernized new look and online educational forum.

Society needs to change the way it talks about vaginal health issues, said 70% of female consumers surveyed in Canada and the US for Irving, TX-based Kimberly-Clark. Its Kotex brand planned to introduce a new product called U by Kotex to target the critical 12- to 24-year-old demographic that builds life-long loyalties to fem-hy brands, says Aida Flick, director, feminine care marketing, Kimberly-Clark. But they also needed to know if women felt there was a need for change in the industry.

‘[The survey] told us that they are ready for change – this is one of those personal female care categories that still feels like it’s stuck in the 1950s. We talk about this as ‘absorbent hygiene’ – antiquated, functional language,’ she tells MiC in a phone interview from Wisconsin.

TV commercials launched in Canada last week poke fun at traditional ads, with pastel-dressed women pirouetting in a garden, dancing with girlfriends in skimpy outfits and the ever-suggestive blue-liquid simulation. Created by JWT in Toronto and with media handled by Mindshare (also in Toronto), new executions will debut this spring and summer, including a French-language TV commercial.

Because women buy products on ‘autopilot,’ a big sampling outreach is necessary for the product, launching at the end of this month, says Flick. This will happen through retail partners like Shoppers Drug Mart and Loblaw, and samples will be sent to writers of websites and bloggers in the media and fashion categories, she adds.

The U by Kotex packaging is black with trendy neon lettering. The brand aims to provide health information on the redesigned sites Kotex.com and UbyKotex.com, which now include community forums and other tools, such as a period tracker calculator and ‘the Dot’ first period kit for moms and teens. On UbyKotex.com, visitors can submit questions and receive answers from three parties – a peer, a mom and a health expert. There’s a video on how to use tampons, and the site asks consumer to upload their own videos about what they want to see or hear more of in future advertising, says Flick.

‘Ultimately the discussion and conversation that happens is the conversation that women want to have, not necessarily [what] manufacturers or the networks or society thinks should happen,’ she says.