Playtex’s hilarious ‘Xtra’ commercial joins female-focused brands like Billie, CVS and Dove flipping the script on feminine care and beauty standards
Periods don’t have to be so “extra.”
That’s the point of a parody Playtex commercial that helps to destigmatize menstrual cycles in a funny way.
The tampon brand tapped “The Good Place” actress D’Arcy Carden to star in its new commercial that is “SNL-worthy,” according to Ad Age. In it, she praises (fictional) tampons called “Xtra” — millennial speak for excessive or dramatic — made with Chilean alpaca fleece core, activated charcoal and probiotics to “restore your delicate flora.”
The fictional tampon wrappers have empowering affirmations like “Bleeding Is Leading,” and the box doubles as a vaginal steaming kit; a subtle dig at the controversial practice pushed by Goop. The joke tampons connect with fitness trackers and a GPS-enabled app to find your “cycle friends.” There’s also an “auto eject” button to remove the tampon, “so you never have to search for that string again, ladies,” Carden quips.
But then Carden gets real once the off-screen director yells, “cut,” and the spot becomes an ad within an ad. “Really? Who needs all this?” she says. “It’s a tampon. Keep it simple.”
Carden signed on to do the period parody because she was tired of seeing women’s health issues being falsely portrayed in ads and “the way companies market so many extra things to us, and they tell us what they think we need, or what we’re supposed to need,” she told People. “I loved the fact that we’re kind of taking a swing at all those tampon commercials that we’ve seen over the years with the women in the white lacy PJs, and the workout clothes. We know what it’s like when we’re on our period, and it’s not that. It’s not that even when we’re not on our period.”
The lighthearted ad helps make period talk about one of the most natural female functions less taboo, since women are often made to feel embarrassed or ashamed about bleeding monthly. Forty percent of women have experienced period-shaming, with one in five being targeted by comments from male friends, according to research. What’s more, 58% of women have felt a sense of embarrassment simply because they were on their period.
But more brands have come out with feminine care products and clever marketing campaigns in recent years to make that time of the month less of a thing. Women’s hygiene company Thinx debuted its innovative period-proof underwear in 2015 to much praise, with Time magazine naming it the best invention of the year. The company took its ad campaign public with upfront posters advertising the underwear all over New York City subways, which announced Thinx as, “Underwear for women with periods.”
These aren’t the only female-driven brands working to normalize women’s health and beauty. The razor brand Billie is making history by revealing body hair in its ads, instead of already silky-smooth legs and underarms depicted in traditional shaving spots. And skincare brand Dove and CVS pharmacy have both vowed to stop Photoshopping women in ads moving forward in an effort to create a more realistic standard of beauty for its customers. Both brands are adding a mark on their print, online and video advertisements to notify consumers that the pix haven’t been retouched.
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