Blog of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research

Not Having A Happy Period

August 10th, 2011 by Elizabeth Kissling

Editor’s note, August 10, 2011: Procter & Gamble has responded that this video was NOT produced or commissioned by them, and is in fact a spoof. While it is still offensive and worthy of criticism as such and your comments are welcome here, please do not direct your ire toward Procter & Gamble.

Edited again, August 10, 2011: I’m beginning to doubt the veracity of the unsigned P&G claim that the company is unaffiliated with this video. The same anonymous quote, attributed only to “Procter & Gamble”, is starting to show up in nearly every online discussion of this ad — at least in discussion of how offensive and un-funny it is. I’ve traced the video back to the Ads of the World site, which provides the following credits:

Advertising Agency: Leo Burnett, London, UK
Creative: Jim Thornton
Director: Ben Jones
Production Company: Helimax Films
DoP: George Steel
Producer: Sherry Collins

I note that P&G has not posted their denial at Ads of the World, or at Jezebel – two blogs with *considerably* larger audiences than re:Cycling. Color me suspicious. I’d like to hear what others think.


Final edit, August 11, 2011: Many thanks to blogger Jane Fae, who phoned both P&G office and Leo Burnett UK, and received the following statement from a senior representative at Leo Burnett:

“All creative agencies will look at different creative ideas to push boundaries and engage consumers. We will occasionally make test films to try and bring an idea to life without a request from the client. These films are for internal use only, for us to understand the power of an idea and are not for publication. This creative was never commissioned nor approved by P&G. We regret this has been made public without our approval or authorization and apologise for any offence caused.”


Procter & Gamble have finally responded to consumer complaints about their patronizing “Have a Happy Period” slogan, with a disturbing video showcasing what they term “some of East London’s finest transvestites”. This is so many kinds of wrong, starting with the conflation of transsexuality and drag performance. But instead of re-inventing the wheel and taking it apart myself, I’m going to re-direct re:Cycling readers to the excellent analysis Shakesville’s EastSideKate did yesterday.

I pulled this P&G contact information and sample letter from commenter “Teaspoon” over there:

Toll-free phone number in the U.S. (Always brand specific): (800) 888-3115
Web form for U.S. contact:

A sample letter that anyone may feel free to adopt or adapt as they like:

Dear P&G representative:

I was recently directed to a web video ad for your Always brand products intended for airing in England and possibly wider audiences, featuring London “drag queens” in tears over an ostensible inability to menstruate.  Quite aside from the errors inherent with conflating cross-dressing performance with transsexuality, this sort of advertising is cruel to transwomen who do feel incomplete, and it helps create a hostile situation for transsexual individuals.  These individuals already face a greater risk of violence simply for being who they are, and your advertising promotes further dehumanization of those who are different.

As a long-time loyal purchaser of Always brand products, I am dismayed by such mocking and harmful advertising.  Until the ad is pulled and a public apology that acknowledges the harmful nature of the ad is issued, I will no longer purchase Always brand products, and I will be reviewing my other purchases to avoid other Proctor and Gamble products as well.

A former customer

3 responses to “Not Having A Happy Period”

  1. We can confirm that this is not a P&G commissioned campaign. We have the utmost respect for the consumers we serve and we do not agree with the way our brand has been portrayed in this spoof video.

  2. Elizabeth Kissling says:

    Thank you, anonymous P&G employee, for this response. I’m sorry I didn’t recognize this as a spoof. In my defense, I’m a little out of practice 😉 , and I saw it on three other sites before I posted – one that has historically been a reliable source of advertising information and attributed it to a well-known ad agency.

    I will add a correction to the post.

  3. Laura Wershler says:

    This is a bizarre situation all round. What, truly, is going on with the advertisers as regards femcare products, and women’s bodies (trans and otherwise) as the object of condescension, parody and assumption. A responder at eastsidekate made this observation, which I too have been wondering about:

    thefremen 08/09/2011 01:13 PM
    “So with the Milk ads, the Always ads and the Summer’s Eve ads, is misogyny and transmisogyny just the order of the day for advertisers? Don’t get me wrong it’s not as if objectifying women and using cissexism to make a joke is new but it’s amazing how many reprehensible ad campaigns have been launched in such a short time. Seems like within the same week or within weeks of each other.”

    It makes one wonder if the pundits at Adweek,etc. are going to respond to this disturbing trend with any cogent analysis. Or are they even qualified to do so? When I read Adweek’s news editor, Tim Nudd, writing about the Summer’s Eve campaign, refer to the vagina as an organ, I just had to shake my head in disbelief. (“Love of the vagina—both the organ and the word—has been pioneered by many others, including tampon brands, long before this.”

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: When will the advertisers avail themselves of expertise in these matters that might keep them from making these kinds of offensive, and sometimes just silly, mistakes? Or maybe they really just don’t give a damn.

    Brava to all the bloggers who are calling them out.

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