Tampon TV: marketing o.b., and alternatives to consider

by Debbie Stoller

Tired of the o.b. tampocolypse story yet? We’re not. The o.b.s are still missing, and folks are beginning to turn to alternatives (more on that later). That’s all good, I think. But what you young folks might not realize, is that once upon a time o.b. WAS the alternative. And in fact, women had to be convinced that it was OK to use them. “What? Put my finger where? Not me!” is what many American women thought when first confronted with the applicator-less tampons (believing that your vag is for OTHER people’s fingers, never your own.) I remember well that o.b.s were marketed with the tag line “Designed by a woman gynecologist.” How awesome! A WOMAN gynecologist? Back in the day when o.b.s were first marketed, that was a rarity indeed. So if we were finally being offered products that were designed by a gynecologist who actually had a vag like us and knew what we were going through, we should probably trust her. Watch how the following ad, from 1979, tries to convince ladies that, if a woman gyno says it’s okay, then maybe it’s alright to touch yourself down there:

[video:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=El4em-KbbLI 425×344]

By the 80s, o.b. tampons had taken a different tack in their marketing. Oh, and by the way? Have you ever noticed that almost all “femine protection” ads are aimed at younger women? The ones who are just starting on their 30-odd years of menses? That’s because these guys know that once you start using a certain brand between your legs, you’re likely to remain a customer for life. For those of you wondering why o.b. users are so unhappy that their preferred brand is gone, please remember that.

Okay, so here in this ad from the 80s, aimed at young, newly menstruating girls (sporting fantastic 80s fashions), makes the claim that using o.b. is about “keeping it simple” and “setting yourself free from the extras that you really don’t need.” They never even mention that it is lacking an applicator.

[video:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mVnvLwEOqJw 425×344]


By 2008, o.b.s advertising tactics had changed yet again. Here they emphasize how small o.b.s are, and don’t think there isn’t an attempt to appeal to your “OMG my vagina is just so small and tight I can’t use regular tampons!”  sense. It’s like selling extra large condoms. Again, the fact that it is applicator-less is never mentioned, just that it has 58% less waste than applicator tampons:

[video:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uj3umxXjdo4 425×344]

Here’s an international spot for o.b., I have no idea what language it is in. But it does something that is SO MUCH COOLER than any other tampon ad I’ve ever seen in my life: it makes using o.b. tampons look SEXY! It’s worth watching for the weird tampon races alone:

[video:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gfepyfsB0Bk 425×344]

I promised I’d have something here about alternatives to o.b., right? In the following video, the lovely ladys at Lunapads  explain the various options you have available at your fingertips (har). They’ve made it especially for the o.b.-less crowd, so watch and learn:

[video:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ff6FCGgiZ7w 425×344]

Want more awesomeness? Read their blog post on the subject




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