Confession time: Panty liner ads aren't real

Oct. 17, 2012 at 11:27 AM ET

Richard Neill almost certainly thought he was the wittier one.

Last week, he took to Facebook to rant sarcastically that a British feminine hygiene company had lied to him with all those commercials implying that getting one’s period is just an excuse for a series of joyful adventures.

Bodyform, the British company that makes the panty liners in question, showed him that they could not only take the criticism, they could do him one better.

On Tuesday, Bodyform posted a parody video of its own on YouTube and Facebook. In it, the company’s fake CEO apologized and fessed up about all those joyful feminine hygiene commercials.

“What you’ve seen in our advertisements so far isn’t a factual representation of events. You’re right. The flagrant use of visualizations such as sky diving, roller blading and mountain biking  - you forgot horse riding Richard – are actually metaphors. They’re not real,” the faux CEO, who they dubbed Caroline Williams, intones somberly. “I’m sorry to be the one to tell you this, but there’s no such thing as a happy period.”

The post came a few days after Neill’s rant went viral, prompting more than 84,000 Facebook “likes” and thousands of comments along the lines of “love this.”

In it, Neill opines that he grew up being jealous of all these women who got to spend their periods bike riding, dancing, parachuting and the like. Then, he said, he was faced with the reality of that time of the month when he “got a girlfriend.”

“There was no joy, no extreme sports, no blue water spilling over wings and no rocking soundtrack oh no no no,” he wrote.

Bodyform responded: “If Facebook had a ‘love’ button, we'd have clicked it. But it doesn't. So we've made Richard a video instead.”

Tim Calkins, a clinical professor marketing at Northwestern University, said the parody video response is exactly the type of marketing more companies need to be doing. He lauded the company for taking the risk of being funny and a bit edgy.

“The reason it works is it just feels very sort of real in that the company is listening and they’re responding and they have a sense of humor, but they also stick up for themselves,” Calkins said.

He noted that it’s also a world away from traditional marketing, in which companies may spend months carefully crafting messages and coming up with advertising campaigns.

“This, though, is an example of a company that’s building its brand but doing so in a way that is timely and authentic and funny,” he said.

Bodyform, which is based in the United Kingdom, was not able to comment as of press time. You can watch the full video on YouTube.

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