Simply coping with the inconveniences of menstruation is the traditional theme of advertising in the feminine protection category.
But a new ad campaign breaking today for Procter & Gamble's Always brand, the top-seller among sanitary pads, makes a break with category tradition and a play for a new way of looking at the topic—with a message of indulgence and the tagline, "Have a happy period. Always."
"We are re-framing the period from negative to positive," said Patti Gregoline, svp and executive creative director for Publicis Groupe's Leo Burnett in Chicago, which worked in partnership with sibling channel planning unit SMG United to craft the strategy.
Consumer research by Burnett differentiated tampon users, who "hate their period, and want it to go away," from pad users, Gregoline said. "They find it a natural part of their life, not necessarily all positive, but part of how their body works. It's a signal they're a woman, they're healthy and fertile."
Two TV spots show the Always pad as a comforting and even inviting product. Against a full-screen view of an Always pad, a contented female voiceover in one spot says soothingly: "Looks like it's time to bloat, whine, pig out, cry for no reason and ... smile." The pad is turned sideways and bent upwards into a smile. Product benefits are not ignored. The smile spot ends with the promise, "With protection so powerful, you can (smile). The same voiceover in another spot says, "A softer, comfy top sheet on every Always pad? Mmmmm, Dreamy," as a white sheet falls gently around the pad then turns into a bed.
Previous advertising for Always took a more functional approach, with demonstrations of absorbability using blue fluid, against the tagline, "Protecting all women. Always."
The idea behind the fresh effort aims at "having a little fun with (a period) rather than dreading it so much," said Kevin Crociata, Always brand manager at Cincinnati-based P&G.
The adspend was not disclosed, but Always spent just under $50 million on measured media in 2004, per to Nielsen Monitor-Plus. The campaign includes a substantial outdoor component that attempts to hit women where they live. Signs in malls urge women to "Wrap your cramps in a pair of silk panties." Another board reads, "The best feminine product ever invented? Credit." For salons, boards were produced that read, "If your claws are out, you might as well paint them," and, "If you're seeing red, make it Ready to Rhumba red."
"There's a candid tone that acknowledges the negative aspects of their period," said Gregoline. "We're speaking to them in an honest way." Always holds a commanding 37 percent market share in the sanitary pads category, with sales of nearly $300 million for the year ended Jan. 23, up 5.5 percent from the previous year, according to Information Resources Inc. All of its competitors were down in sales, including No. 2 Kotex, which had $132 million in sales for the same period.