Wednesday, April 27, 2016

It's not just for topiary any longer

     I was standing in a bar in Jerusalem with the newspaper publisher's wife. Having traveled Israel together for a week, we had run out of things to say a few days earlier. So we silently watched the TV over the bar which, at that moment, was showing a Kotex commercial.
     "There's an interesting story about how Kotex was developed . . . " I began.
     "And I suppose you're going to tell me," she said.
     That stung. I know I can be a bore. But certain stories fascinate, such as how 100 years ago Kimberly-Clark, the Wisconsin paper mill, ramped up to make Cellucotton, which went into gas mask filters in the First World War. The war ended abruptly, tanking the gas mask market, so Kimberly-Clark had to figure out what to do with all that Cellucotton. They developed two new products, thin sheets they called "Kleenex" and thick pads they called "Kotex."
    The challenge of selling Kleenex tissues was figuring out what to do with them. Originally they were sold as a way for ladies to remove their makeup. But a nurse suggested sneezing into them, and an industry was born.

     The challenge of selling Kotex was two-fold: first teaching reluctant women — who up to that point used rags — to try the product. And second to push squeamish retailers into selling it. At first they packaged it in plain white boxes....

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  1. It's not a new ad. I first saw it months ago & got a good laugh when it ran. It's very clever.
    I suppose you want them to go back to bra & panty ads that didn't even allow them to be shown on actual women?
    And I'm an old fogy on Medicare!

  2. It's new if you've never seen it before.

  3. One of the most famous advertising campaigns of the last century was also the ultimate in discretion, each ad featuring an elegantly gowned woman posed over the headline "Modess...because." But the world has indeed moved on. I sometimes wonder what my Presbyterian mother would make of current ads concluding with a warning about seeing a doctor if it lasts more than four hours. But then, she had me, presumably not through miraculous conception, so I expect she would be able to handle it.

    Pubic hair became an item of public speculation in the late 19th Century when the marriage of John Ruskin to Effie Grey was annulled on grounds of unconsummation. She claimed he was unable to do the deed on their wedding night because "he was disgusted by my person." As the most famous art critic of the age he could not have been unfamiliar with the naked female form, so the theory was that he was surprised and revolted by the sight of pubic hair. He was not thought to be gay, and was attracted to a much younger woman later in life, but perhaps epitomised the unhealthy sexual squeamishness the Victorian era became known for.

    Tom Evans

    1. @Tom -- "he......was attracted to a much younger woman later in life..."

      Aren't they all?


  4. This is why I never miss a column/blog post by NS; I always learn something new. I'd never seen that commercial before either. My first reaction was simply "wow". My second reaction was, I'm really grateful I wasn't alive when rags were used during women's monthly cycles of joy.


  5. Teenagers want plastic surgery on their..........what the..... There's just way too many things wrong with that. Just imagining the healing process *shudder*. Piercing the naughty bits has got to be bad enough, that's a nightmare.

  6. When I was 10 or so (or maybe even older, I hate to admit), my mother sent me to the corner store to buy a "K" product and I came home with the other "K" product, because I was too embarrassed to ask for the first. Needless to say, my mother was furious. If I was really 10 at the time, I didn't know what the product was for, just that I would feel funny asking for it. If she'd told me to get x-lax, I don't know what I would have come back with!


  7. Joke about the misinformation that can be conveyed by advertising. A little kid finds a ten dollar bill and his friends tell him to buy one of those products because with it you can go swimming, play tennis and do all kinds of fun things.


  8. Those teens must have too much time, money and insecurities on their hands.

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