I’ve been enjoying the recent U by Kotex campaign, “GET WITH generation KNOW”. However, after studying their past campaign “Break the Cycle, for what seemed like an unending “cycle”, the same feelings of unease and frustration abound.
Is U by Kotex sharing “truths” that women need to know? Yes. Are they doing it well from a marketing standpoint? Absolutely! Are they telling women the truths when it comes to the products they are selling?
If you are not familiar with the campaign, this video will help you out:
This video features some great facts about menstrual and vaginal health that all women should know. The only thing I would discourage women from doing is to look to U by Kotex for guidance about period care. Women need to “Get with Generation
When a company doesn’t disclose that their products contribute to both environmental waste and compromises women’s health, they aren’t really letting their customers “in the know”.
And, let’s not forget the 2012 KC Natural Balance Security recall over bacteria traces and metal particles as well as and the case of the moldy tampon. Wouldn’t those in “the know” want to know what really happened with thees two cases? And isn’t this type of media platform a perfect place for such conversation to occur? If you are going to make a video unveiling the truths about period care, these two “scares” should definitely make an appearance.
I am well aware that KC sharing options like menstrual cups or reusable cloth pads with their customers wouldn’t be the best corporate decision, but if they can’t be honest, they should change their tag line.
Being “in the know” about vaginal health and menstrual care, and more specifically about the history of femcare products, should include honest discussion of the whole industry, not just the elements that contribute to U by Kotex’s profit margin.
One unique element of the campaign is their “i know” bracelet which fans are encouraged to request (for free) and wear proudly! While I agree that these little gems can be a good conversation starter… what will the conversation be about? Will it be about the taboos of menstruation? The fallacies surrounding proper vaginal care? Or will it be about their new tampon purchase?
My hope is that these bracelets will help spread the word about the truths of menstrual and vaginal health. However, my concern is that they may also encourage young women to buy a product that is not different, but rather the same as those of decades past, laden with chemicals, plastics and a deep history of menstrual waste and shame.
I want to leave you with a video that is all about break ups. You read right and might be asking break up with whom?
In the summer of 2012, Sarah wrote a song (with the help of U by Kotex fans) about breaking up with her old tampon.
Merriam Webster online defines a break up as: “to end a romance”, “to bring to an end” and “to do away with” among many more. Given these definitions shouldn’t a break up in femcare resemble an actual break up – moving from what once was (a tampon) to something new (a menstrual cup or cloth pad)? Of course, as with all products there are always upgrades in the KC product line: colour, width, length and ingredient list, but at the end of the day they are still selling women a disposable product.
I’m going to turn things over to Sarah now and just in case you miss what she’s saying, I’ve added the lyrics below!
Help Sarah Break Up
Finally summer’s here again
It’s time to hit the beach with all my friends
Then I stop cuz it’s not cute
Looking insecure in my bathing suit
You’ve had me all out of sorts
I can’t even wear my favourite shorts
You keep trying to hold me back
Old tampon, I’m over that
Cuz I’m done letting you ruin my days
Listen here, I’ll make it clear that I’ve changed my ways
Cuz, the sun is shining. now that your gone and
Now I can rest assured knowing that your gone for good
And I won’t miss you
No not one bit cuz now I feel safe and sound
With the new protection that I’ve found
oh… oh oh…
“Now I feel safe and sound with the new protection that I’ve found”
What a great song! In addition to the lyrics taking away all my fears surrounding tampons, I’m glad there will be more sun shining as a result of U by Kotex.
If I may say one more thing… while the song presents itself as breaking free from the past, the mere fact that discourses of protection, shame, secrecy and femininity abound, makes me wonder if U by Kotex has actually come as far as they are letting women believe is the case. Is it wrong to suggest that maybe they are covering up what remains with bright colours, catchy tag lines and a cute bracelet?