Tuesday, March 23, 2010

V is for "viral"

Going viral is a complicated thing.

According to Ed Robinson, executive director and co-founder of The Viral Factory, 'You've got to be prepared to polarise your audience and generate debate".

And what better way to do that, than by provoking an outrageous case of censorship?

Kotex has done just that.

A very funny ad, making fun of clich├ęs that (literally) dance delicately around something that half of the fertile human race contends with on a monthly basis. That's entertaining enough to draw eyeballs, but the original version went even further: according to Sociological Images (and other sources) it ended with the woman saying "so that's what's supposed to happen in my vagina". (Or maybe it's "to" — I have yet to find the original!)

Some U.S. networks refused to run the original ad because it was "too frank". As reported in the New York Times:
"Merrie Harris, global business director at JWT, said that after being informed that it could not use the word vagina in advertising by three broadcast networks, it shot the ad cited above with the actress instead saying 'down there, which was rejected by two of the three networks. (Both Ms. Harris and representatives from the brand declined to specify the networks.)

'It’s very funny because the whole spot is about censorship,' Ms. Harris said. 'The whole category has been very euphemistic, or paternalistic even, and we’re saying, enough with the euphemisms, and get over it. Tampon is not a dirty word, and neither is vagina.'

Too frank? We see ads for erectile dysfunction all the time that talk about erections lasting several hours, and something completely natural is too frank? Somebody's priorities are obviously messed up.

As for Kotex, it turns out that some of the "parody" footage in the ad is actually taken from their own, unironic, campaigns.

“We are guilty, so it’s not that Kotex is any different,” said Andrew Meurer, vice president for North American feminine, adult and senior care for Kotex’s parent company, Kimberly-Clark. “We’re turning the light on ourselves, and we’re not saying, look at what other people do. We’re saying look at what we’ve done in the past, which typifies everyone in the category.”

The new Kotex campaign also has cool "hidden camera" video and print components.

(via Sociological Images)

Interestingly, the Australian site for the product is a little more frank, and even more cheeky — it uses an animated beaver as a mascot.

Meanwhile, even the censored version of the American ad has broken a quarter million views on YouTube.

Break the cycle, indeed. Vagina.

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