Thursday, July 3, 2014

Did your napkin transform your life?

Sanitary napkin ads on TV have always made me uncomfortable. i believe it's a matter of very personal choice what a woman wants to use during those days. But off late, they irritate me for a few of other reasons as well. 

i remember these ads from my childhood when the only format was Renuka Shahane - or some other personality- sans make up, start with "Mujhe aapse kuch kehna hai! kaise kahoon....." It had the hush hush tone of talking women stuff in secret. As if men in the drawing room couldn't hear it! But the scene has changed totally today. The woman in the ad is jumping for joy embracing this aspect of her womanhood. Contrary to her 80's counterpart, she's shown frolicking around - always in white, i wonder why - declaring to the world that she has found freedom, with the right brand of napkins.

In times when sanitary napkins are not the only choice for women, these ads are almost outdated. There are so many other media through which women can find out what’s best for them. We don't need in-your-face adverts to tell us what's good for us. Also, television influences and creates impressions on young minds. And these adverts are no short of propagating wrong ideas about best period practices. (more, later)

How does a brand of sanitary napkins ascertain success in life? From exams to bagging a job to lasting a long day in office? Weren’t women efficient and successful when Whisper wasn’t 40% longer? (What are we trying to suck in anyways - the Indian Ocean?) Aren’t fairness creams and whitening toothpastes enough to float that wrong idea around?

Coming to the role of these ads in giving out false ideas. Take the latest ad of Whisper. The message is that we are supposed to jump out of bed even on those days and without Whisper, you are going to wake up tired on that one odd day. But are we really supposed to jump out of bed? Is it not ok to be not-ok on those days and just take it easy? Is it not ok to respect the needs of your body and rest for a bit? Isn't it true that there's more to periods than finding the right sanitary napkin?

The second idea that is promoted - and unhygienically so - is the idea that a napkin can last you all day for as long as 12 hrs! As a product, good for whisper! But is it good for the users? One of the most basic principles of hygiene is to change every 6 hours. It is wrong to make such claims on a medium which can influence teenage minds at a time when they need right guidance. 

i think it’s high time that brands reconsidered their ad campaigns and made them more product relevant. It is one thing to inform people about the new brands available to them as a choice. And quite another to make false assertions about the change their products can bring about in the lives of women. 


  1. New York: In a discussion that has gone viral on the Web, PepsiCo's India-born CEO Indra Nooyi, counted among the world's most powerful women, has acknowledged that it is difficult to maintain a work-life balance.

    "I don't think women can have it all. I just don't think so. We pretend we have it all. We pretend we can have it all," 58-year-old Ms Nooyi told David Bradley, owner of the Atlantic Media Company, at the Aspen Ideas Festival in Colorado this week. (Read story here)

    Ms Nooyi said she has died "with guilt" several times as she tried to bring up her two daughters with her husband of 34 years.