Cause-Related Marketing for Africa from Tampax

There I was, glancing through my March issue of Teen Vogue (don’t ask) when I came across the arresting image on the left.

Like any fashion magazine, Teen Vogue is mostly ads of girls in fashionable attire in chichi locales. So this ad for a cause-related marketing campaign from Proctor & Gamble’s Tampax brand really pops.

The campaign is another branch of Proctor & Gamble’s growing relationship with African causes and the United Nations. P&G’s water purifier brand Pur supports water purification efforts in Kenya. And P&G has been doing a packaged goods cause-related marketing campaign for UNICEF for at least a half-dozen years.

The campaign is multi-faceted and, frankly, more than just a little confusing. You don’t need to go to the website to get that. Just look at the ‘logo soup’ at the bottom of the ad.

Here’s the bones of the campaign: P&G is donating $1.4 million to HERO, a campaign of the United Nations Association (UNA-USA). The money goes to support orphans and other vulnerable children in the African countries of Ethiopia, Namibia, South Africa and Zambia. Since some 12 million kids in Africa have lost one or both parents due to AIDS, the campaign has a special emphasis on kids affected by that scourge. HERO monies go to providing clean water, building classrooms, and of course providing sanitary pads to girls who would otherwise miss school during their menses.

P&G's HERO campaign has a youth ambassador element whereby 24 kids… girls and boys… from the U.S. go to work in African villages during the summer. On the website there’s a donate now button, some suggestions on how to raise money for HERO, some factoids on Africa [“The cheetah (an indigenous animal of Africa) can run faster than any other land animal, at speeds up to 70 mph!”], video webisodes from the work of the 2006 Ambassadors, and more.

I like it. It’s important and life-changing and the ambassador campaign is a smart touch. Although it doesn’t seem like the website or the program is fully leveraged given the audience.

That said, the creative gives me pause, particularly the call to action. It reads: “Use your period for good.”

I’m long past any boyhood embarrassment about menstrual periods. I have a wife, daughters, a mother, four sisters, a mother-in-law, and six sisters-in-law. My consulting business is as likely to put me in the company of women as men. I live surrounded on all sides by a wall of estrogen. (And I’m comfortable enough in my own masculinity that don’t even need/have a ‘mantuary’).

Moreover, it’s fair to say they didn’t write the copy for me in particular or for men or boys in general. They wrote it for girls. I dare say that Proctor & Gamble probably did some copy testing to make sure it ‘played.’

I don’t want to parse this out too far, but in American English the line has a double-meaning. “For good” certainly means what it sounds like; use your period to benefit others. However, in the American idiom “for good” also means ‘permanently.’

That’s where it gets sketchy for me.

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