Kotex Commemorates 100th Anniversary by Focusing on Its Founders: Nurses

The campaign highlights those who created the brand and how the pandemic hurts women

a nurse with a pad shape around her eyes and top of face
Kotex highlights how women are affected by the Covid-19 pandemic in its new spot. Kimberly-Clark Corporation
Headshot of Kathryn Lundstrom

For the brand’s 100th anniversary, Kotex is taking a moment to stop and reflect on the progress of the last century while also highlighting work that still needs to be done.

In 1920, the brand’s new spot tells viewers, it was women nurses who developed the first Kotex pads so they could keep doing their jobs while they were on their periods. Today—Menstrual Hygiene Day—women are disproportionately affected by the economic implications of the novel coronavirus pandemic, as they make up 75% of the caretakers tending to the sick.

The Kimberly-Clark-owned brand is also using the campaign to launch its “She Can” initiative, which will serve as a way to unite the brand’s projects to expand access to period products, support girls’ education and fight period stigma around the world.

The campaign encapsulates the feminine care brand’s purpose, which is to ensure that “a period never gets in the way of a woman’s progress,” said Juanita Pelaez, global vp of adult and feminine care for Kimberly-Clark. The brand worked with Ogilvy on the spot.


While 800 million women are menstruating every day, 1 in 5 lacks access to the menstrual hygiene products she needs to manage it, which leads to more than 100 million girls falling behind in school, according to Pelaez.

Those problems were there before the pandemic, but the global health crisis is exacerbating the issues.

“We thought that, really, it was the right moment to make these more of a cohesive effort and to launch this global platform,” Pelaez said. Creating this umbrella for the brand’s projects around the world will “unify our efforts and make sure that we are more focused on the work we do in the three pillars that are fighting the stigma, opening doors for her and building the future with education.”

Across the globe, Kotex already has projects in place to do just that. In the U.S., it is a founding sponsor of the Alliance for Period Supplies, an initiative that works to get period supplies in the hands of those who are struggling to afford basic material needs. In Australia, the brand provides materials to teachers to support menstruation education. In Malaysia and Russia, the “She Can” fund supports women who can’t pay for the education they need to succeed. In partnership with Plan International, Kotex supports community initiatives to dismantle stigmas related to periods in Brazil, China, Colombia, India and Nigeria.

In light of the ways women have been impacted by Covid-19, Pelaez said the brand will focus more attention now on helping women rebuild. “We want to make sure that we play a big role in that and making that difference.”

The Kotex campaign is part of a broader trend in purpose-driven advertising around period products, calling attention to outdated thinking around menstruation and women’s bodies. Earlier this year, for example, Kotex followed Essity’s lead and used red liquid in an advertisement demonstrating the absorption rates of its pads, rather than the traditional blue that had previously been used.

@klundster kathryn.lundstrom@adweek.com Kathryn Lundstrom is Adweek's breaking news reporter based in Austin.