This Tampax Ad Has Been Banned for the Most Frustrating Reason
A lot of people have mastered tampon application through a mix of talking with family or friends, trial and error, and studying The Care and Keeping of You. In terms of commercials, Tampax has included some helpful info in its ads, but (shocker!) one has recently been censored.
In the commercial, which has aired in the UK and Ireland, a talk show host asks, "How many of you ever feel your tampon?" Her guest raises her hand. "You shouldn't!" the host says. "It might mean your tampon isn't in far enough. You've got to get them up there!"
Then, to illustrate the point, some floating hands demonstrate the correct and incorrect way to use a tampon. On one side, the hands mimic partially inserting the tampon ("not just the tip") and on the other, they demonstrate inserting the tampon all the way ("to the grip"). (Related: Tampax Just Released a Line of Menstrual Cups—Here's Why That's a Huge Deal)
Might seem harmless if you're not offended by plastic tubes and hand "vulvas," but the commercial has received backlash and has even been pulled off the air in Ireland. The Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland (ASAI) reviewed the commercial and said it led to four different complaints: that it was generally offensive, demeaning to women (i.e. insinuating women can't just figure it out by reading the box), contained sexual innuendo, and/or unsuitable for children. After review, the ASAI upheld only the first complaint (that the commercial was generally offensive), stating that the ad had caused "widespread offense" among viewers in Ireland. On that basis alone, the ASAI ruled that the commercial should get pulled. The brand complied and pulled the ad from Irish TV, according to The Lily.
This turn of events isn't particularly surprising given how commercials pertaining to women's health concerns have historically been regulated on television. Take Thinx's "MENstruation" commercial, which showed a world where everyone gets periods and there's no stigma surrounding menstrual products. The ad wasn't shown in its entirety on TV, since images of blood aren't allowed. Some networks refused to run the ad at all unless Thinx removed a shot of a man with a visible tampon string hanging from his underwear. In another example, a Frida Mom commercial showing a new mom swapping her pad and using a peri bottle was rejected from airing during the Oscars because it was deemed too graphic. (Related: Why You Shouldn't Wear Super-Absorbent Tampons with a Light Period Flow)
The Tampax commercial, while admittedly light-hearted, was blatantly educational, which makes its rejection all the more disappointing. In Tampax's response to the complaints to ASAI, the period care brand stated that the commercial was based on "extensive research with consumers across several European countries to ascertain what were the barriers to use [tampons], particularly in the age groups between 18 and 24 as they started to use tampons more frequently." The brand had conducted an online survey of over 5,000 European adults and found that 30-40 percent of respondents weren't inserting their tampons correctly, and 30-55 percent weren't extending the applicator fully. Tampax also noted that respondents from Spain, a country that has already run similarly informative period care commercials, were less likely to indicate that they were using tampons incorrectly or experiencing discomfort.
Anyone who's ever put in a tampon partway knows that the declaration "You've got to get them up there!" is sage advice. Too bad that it also supposedly caused "widespread offense" in Ireland.