Historical Analysis: U by Kotex

In March 2010 the feminine hygiene brand, Kotex, released an advertisement to introduce its new line of tampons, pads, and panty liners called ‘U by Kotex.’ The commercial features a young woman describing the emotions she usually feels every month when she’s on her menstrual cycle. Along with the woman’s description are jovial visuals of butterflies, beach scenery, and cheerful girls dancing. The ad ends with a question, mocking the feminine hygiene ads of the past.

This ad for Kotex is clever in the way that it satirically uses traditional advertising concepts. The main concept being used ironically in this commercial is the idea of the lifestyle. Lifestyle is used as an aspirational tool in advertising that convinces the consumer that there is a certain standard of living that one must become accustomed to. In most cases, the lifestyle used in traditional ads is one that involves material items like expensive homes, cars, and vacations associated with high society. However, this ad focuses on the attitudes and social norms attached to the products it’s advertising. The main narration of the ad along with the lighthearted images in the background provides the consumer with a kind of “mental” lifestyle. While using these new tampons, pads, and panty liners, the consumer will share the same feelings of joy as the women portrayed in the ad. The ad dematerializes products that are essential to female anatomy to the point where it is no longer about their actual function, but the mental lifestyle attached to it. Kotex recognizes that this tactic of using lifestyle to sell something as necessary as feminine care products is asinine and uses humor and satire to point this out. The use of irony and self-awareness make this commercial the quintessential contemporary advertisement.

Perhaps the most important element of this advertisement that makes it a product of it’s time, is in the way it tries to humanize itself. At the 40 second mark of the commercial, Kotex poses the question “Why are tampon ads so ridiculous?” It acknowledges that feminine care ads of the past were not realistic and undermined consumer intelligence. Ad executives at Kotex even admitted to researching their own commercial archives while creating this new, more sensible ad. Through this humorous commercial, Kotex embodies the modern-day advertising trend of humanization and the idea that “Corporations are just like people you know.” Kotex is able to empathize with the typical modern woman by subtlely acknowledging the universal opinion that going through the monthly cycle is not pleasant. The 21st century consumer is aware (for the most part) of dishonest traditional advertising concepts and has become wary of huge corporations. Kotex’s commercial has established a new kind of trust and understanding between the company and the consumer, which is essential to success in the modern world of advertising. Bridging the gap between the corporation and the audience through wit establishes an honest dialogue between the ad and the consumer. This kind of truthful advertising makes Kotex a reflection of the modern consumerist world.



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