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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Tampaximize Your Profit

Tampax' new slogan? "Use Your Period For Good."

Their Protecting the Futures campaign is the most offensive piece of advertising I've ever seen, on so many levels I'm not even sure where to start!

And they all seem to want to get in on the charity act. Appealing to the compunctious good hearts of Westerners to save those poor souls in less developed nations - whether they want to be "saved" or not - seems to be the P.R. du jour. For a while there, Pampers in the UK partnered with Unicef to give vaccinations to third-world children - for every pack of diapers sold. Buy our product - "save" a child. The implication, of course, if you don't buy their product... I'll leave you to take that to its guilt-inducing logical conclusion. And of course, it begs the question, which is more harmful, the diaper or the vaccination?

Let's start with the health impact on the world of these two offerings from Proctor and Gamble. Diapers and sanitary products have been found in several independent studies to contain dioxins, which suppress the immune system and put the women and children who use products containing them at risk for infertility. Dioxins also interfere with fetal and child development. Isn't that nice? They also contain such yummy things like chlorine, absorbancy enhancers, synthetic fibers, deodorant and fragrance, which amplify toxin production.*

Yes, let's send all those wonderful things to the girls in Africa!

But wait, there's more!

The environmental impact on the U.S. due to the use of these products has been enormous. In 1999, seventy-three million woman used tampons. ONE woman might use as many as 16,800 in her lifetime. Think about the amount of waste this creates. In 2006, the Ocean Conservancy found 20,000 tampon applicators underwater and along shorelines - an improvement from a 1999 study that found 170,000 applicators.* But still.

Africa doesn't have enough problems... let's give them this one, too.

And this isn't the first time the U.S has rushed in to capitalize "help." We've given them formula - and discouraged breastfeeding. We've given them poison-filled diapers to put on their babies and litter their landscape. Now we're going to give them Tampax. Hallelujah! The Western world once again leads the way in progress and benevolent imperialism acts.

Not.

Does anyone really believe that African girls are missing school because they lack disposable sanitary products? Really? Even if it's true - that it's actually embarrassment and lack of protection and not an archaic and mysogynistic religious idea (introduced by Westerners, I might add... ahhhh the irony!) that's keeping girls out of school during their time of the month - isn't it still unbelievably condescending to assume that the entire continent has been just waiting for the U.S. to come in and rescue them? It's a little patronizing to believe that they don't know how to deal with such a basic, biological function - don't you think? (You mean they might be using something as primitive as a cloth pad!? *gasp*)

Remember what happened when Nestle introduced formula to African mothers? No? Nestle introduced formula to the continent, assuring mothers it was "better" for their babies - and they consequently became dependent on it - African mothers' milk dried up - and then, when mothers couldn't afford the formula anymore, they began to water it down, and their babies became undernourished.


What a charitable triumph for a Western corporation just looking to help...

If we really want to help girls in Africa with this issue, perhaps we should send them Diva Cups. Or sea sponges. Both of which are much better for the environment and their bodies. And if Tampax really wanted to help to accomplish the following, as their web site claims:

Your purchase of Tampax or Always helps us donate $1.4 million through 2008 to the United Nations Association's HERO campaign to help provide feminine protection and education to girls in Southern Africa. That money will be used to provide health, hygiene and puberty education. It's also going into building classrooms, toilets, wash stations and dorms. And it's being used to provide the students with meals and clean water. In addition, we'll be providing pads to these girls to help them not miss school when they get their period.

Perhaps they should donate that 1.4 million dollar budget (and their astronomical ad budget to boot!) to truly altruistic organizations that are already doing these things without all the capitalist strings attached. There's a thought.

But it seems to me they're more interesting in getting the recognition for some perceived act of charity, while all they really want is to create a new market for their product and instill their brand.

*

1 comment:

baby~amore' said...

i hadn't heard about this campaign - well said -
I knew all about formula - so tragic.