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Ragging on sanitary product ads.

I’m really offended by the new “Date with Stayfree” ads.

But not for the reasons some might think.

It’d be easy enough for the campaign’s creators and/or defenders to accuse me of being an uptight woman with no sense of humor. Those of you who know me, though, know that’s pretty far from the truth.

Why don’t I like these ads? Because they’re uninspired. Irrelevant. Ineffective. And lazy.

The adwoman in me is offended that slacker BBDO Toronto creatives blatantly ripped off Fallon’s “Brawny Guy” campaign from several years ago. I mean, they even copied the woman’s-POV-cam shooting style, down to the head nod. Sheesh.

As just a regular consumer-type woman, I’m offended that the team saw how Old Spice Guy, in his eye-candyliciousness and over-the-top awesomeness, was so successful with their target audience that they probably thought, “Hey! Chicks dig funny ads with half-naked hot guys! Let’s make funny ads with half-naked hot guys in them!” and then they did just that – but only got the hot, half-naked part right.

I’m also irked that they created an ad campaign that’s gratuitous at best and displays a complete lack of empathy for women. Unlike the Brawny and Old Spice campaigns, which link the characters and their behavior to their brand attributes, the Stayfree guys have no relevance to the product they’re promoting.

And why on earth would I or any woman want a guy who isn’t an OB/GYN talking to me about feminine products? Even a supposedly sensitive one sporting six-pack abs and dreamy eyes? Yeah, he’s hot and I wouldn’t kick him out of bed for eating crackers. But what does his desirability have to do with my…um…“sanitary needs”? Why would I even want to think of those two things in relation to each other? Please. I don’t even want to go there.

Sure, these ads spoof ye olde “blue liquid on the pad” demos of traditional feminine product ads, but sorry, guys. That’s already been done, much more successfully, by JWT in their U by Kotex spots earlier this year.

Like Stayfree, Kotex aimed for a fresh and humorous approach to the category. Unlike BBDO, though, JWT hit their target. They struck the perfect chord – creating ads that use smart, relevant humor to appeal to their audience. To me, it shows that they “get” women and know that we’ve got a sense of humor, and it’s far more sophisticated than the BBDO team gives us credit for.

Speaking of BBDO, it’s interesting to note that their creative team and a good portion of the account team are male. By contrast, the Kotex team is nearly all female. I don’t think that’s a coincidence. I’m not saying you have to have two X chromosomes to create compelling sanitary product advertising – or, for that matter, any advertising targeting women. I do think it helps, though. And if you don’t have personal experience with the product, you’d better do your homework and understand what makes women tick – and laugh. And maybe run your ideas by a few gal pals before you start shooting.

Otherwise, you’re gonna end up with some really bad ads.

Period.

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