Always disappoint with transphobia

// 10 August 2011

Tags: , , ,

A photograph of a selection of handmade washable sanitary towels in various colours and patterns, on green tissue paper Always, the sanitary towel people, have created a video advertisement which has left me cold. I don’t know where they got the idea of selling their pads through the medium of transphobia, but several people on twitter and in the comments have already expressed their intention to boycott.

Comments have included, “Oh yeah transphobia really makes me want to bleed on their products”, and “Disgusting. Was lifelong customer of theirs and have just emailed to say won’t buy from them again. Reported to ASA”.

Big corporations like Procter and Gamble (“Proud sponsor of Mums” – how does that work?), who own Always, wield an awful lot of power, and their ads can have a powerful influence. Using this transphobic tactic is quite horrifying. Enough to warrant a trigger warning for the video, I would say.

If you want to contact P&G you can do so here, and you can find out how to complain to the Advertising Standards Authority here.

EDITED TO ADD: It looks like P&G knew nothing about this ad, and did not authorise or create it for their Always brand. Leo Burnett, an advertising agency, told Jane Fae,

“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 These films are for internal use only, for us to understand the power of an idea and are not for publication.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.”

[The photograph is of a selection of handmade cloth sanitary towels in a variety of colours and designs. It was taken by me.]

Comments From You

Anna Ghislaine // Posted 10 August 2011 at 11:34 am

Is there a transcript anywhere? I can’t watch the vid at work. (I do believe you that it’s trans-bigoted; I just want to be able to demonstrate I know what I’m talking about if I go around telling people ‘Always have made a trans-bigoted ad’.)

Flo Fflach // Posted 10 August 2011 at 11:36 am

It’s just a weird advert altogether. Just thinking about women with say endometriosis and struggling with fertility, to add extra causes for complaint!

Anna Ghislaine // Posted 10 August 2011 at 11:37 am

PS: Why say ‘no ableism’ and then use words like ‘homophobic’ and ‘transphobic’? Phobias are real conditions, and it’s unfair to conflate a nice person’s irrational fear with an unpleasant person’s bigotry. Why not say homo-bigoted, queer-bigoted, trans*-bigoted, etc.?

louise // Posted 10 August 2011 at 11:41 am

I can’t imagine how triggering this could be for female identified intersex people as well. The creators of this advert seem to have gone out there way to be triggering to anyone female identified who has never had a period.

Elaine // Posted 10 August 2011 at 12:20 pm

Not only does this perpetuate the ‘trans women are men in dresses’ stereotype, which is often laughed off as a joke in the media but which translates to real harm and discrimination on the streets (thank you ‘Little Britain’), but it is also actively mocking trans womens’ infertility for the sake of a marketing gimmick, which also has the effect of suggesting that ‘a lack of periods = not a real woman’ (blatantly untrue) which affects some cis women as well. So many people are targeted in a negative way through this. It’s sick on several levels and I’ll be sure to complain.

Sarah Brown // Posted 10 August 2011 at 12:29 pm

I am a post op trans woman. After SRS, I had blood seepage for six months. I used Always Ultra towels to control the mess and found them a good product at the time. Now I feel really quite queasy about that given Procter and Gamble are apparently happy to play on the infertility of women such as me to sell their products. I wasn’t able to watch the video all the way through.

Harri // Posted 10 August 2011 at 12:37 pm

There’s been some discussion of this advert on the Trans Media Watch facebook page, where someone also asked for a transcript.

There, I noted: “The only audio on the video is some music. It has some lyrics, I believe they are: ‘Now you say you’re lonely, you cried the whole night through, well you can cry me a river, cry me a river, I cried a river over you’, so not strictly necessary in terms of understanding the advert.”

I hope this is useful.

Jane // Posted 10 August 2011 at 12:45 pm

Absolutely agree with the shock at seeing this video…if it is genuinely produced by P&G.

I am currently talking to the press offices of both organisations allegedly involved (P&G and Leo Burnett) and they are not sure it is one of their’s. Will update as soon as i know more…and if anyone gets irrefutable proof one way or t’other as to the pedigree of this ad, please let me know.

Jane Fae

rosi // Posted 10 August 2011 at 1:00 pm

Can you please give details of a broadcast date and channel as this is needed for the ASA complaint. Thanks

Suzie // Posted 10 August 2011 at 1:37 pm

I think the bigger issue with ST adverts is when the big companies pay to air them. They are on during soaps, rom coms and relaity shows. Never footie matches, action films or car shows. Its a rubbish advert and possibly a hoax but if I were in advertising I would be at a loss to think of a way to advertise STs that wouldn’t offend ANYbody….

Zoe O'Connell // Posted 10 August 2011 at 2:14 pm


It’s described as a “viral” advert, so appears not to have aired on TV. However, the ASA also covers viral Internet advertising so if legitimate, this would be covered.

There’s no indication that P&G have officially released this yet, it appears to have originated via a recent upload to YouTube channel apparently run by the Saachi & Saachi advertising agency. (The “Roger Milla show”, a spoof show used as part of a Coca Cola advert) However, the film company involved in making it, “Helimax films” state that it caused a “stream of controversy when it was first released and was subsequently pulled”, but doesn’t give dates.

Alison // Posted 10 August 2011 at 2:41 pm

As a transgendered person myself I would like to make a comment. I think they were trying to acknoladge that TG persons are not fully what they could be more so that be hurtful. Stepping back and looking at this ad from the outside, it looks like they were trying to help. Maybe a better solution would be to suggest a better way to acknowledge that with out being offensive. Then again, in all reality, there will always be a few people that are offended no mater what someone says or does; I’m sure there will be some that will be offended at my comment as well.

Amelia Dorothy // Posted 10 August 2011 at 2:47 pm

sorry to go offtopic and throroughly disgusted by the video, but how did you make the handmade sanitary towels? what did you use for the middle bit? I’d love to make some myself.

lily // Posted 10 August 2011 at 3:48 pm

I have received the following email from P&G

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.

This is therefore not a genuine video for Always and is a sick spoof.

Philippa Willitts // Posted 10 August 2011 at 4:53 pm

It seems there is still some dispute about whether or not P&G are responsible for this.

I will update the post or the comments with any new news about whether the advert is claimed by P&G as genuine, or keep an eye on Jane Fae’s blog.

Amelia – flannel is good and absorbent for the middle of the towels, brushed cotton to be comfortable on the outside. This looks quite like the way I’ve done it, but there are lots of different patterns around. Or you could buy them on etsy or elsewhere online.

Saranga // Posted 10 August 2011 at 5:28 pm

oh christ. who that was a good idea? Jeez.

Jane // Posted 10 August 2011 at 6:10 pm

Very offensive indeed: this is insulting to anyone who is unable – but wants to – menstruate, no matter what the reason. It is almost making the inability to menstruate in this case something to laugh at – certainly the emotions portrayed do not come close the very real grief that some people would feel in this situation. Instead, it seems to me, that the viewer is invited to snigger – or am I missing some kind of bullshit attempt a irony? I know there is some doubt that this ad was produced by P&G but the production values seem very good – I do know that some firms go for the viral ad route and then pretend it is not them when there is a backlash. // Posted 10 August 2011 at 7:06 pm

It looks like Procter & Gamble are denying responsibility for this ad, calling it “a spoof”. You can see their reaction in the comments on Youtube as well as their FB page and @proctergamble twitter account.

You’d think that their legal team would be on top of getting it removed from Youtube if this were in fact the case….

Jamie // Posted 10 August 2011 at 8:23 pm

P & G and Always had nothing to do with the ad.

Vicky // Posted 12 August 2011 at 2:34 am

I bought a Mooncup this morning, after intending to buy one for ages and never getting round to it. This video has made me very glad that I finally went out and got one! I won’t be buying Always ever again.

LUVM // Posted 15 August 2011 at 4:07 pm

That advert is offensive to pretty much everyone. Really horrible sentiment.

Have Your say

To comment, you must be registered with The F-Word. Not a member? Register. Already a member? Use the sign in button below

Sign in to the F-Word

Further Reading

Has The F-Word whet your appetite? Check out our Resources section, for listings of feminist blogs, campaigns, feminist networks in the UK, mailing lists, international and national websites and charities of interest.

Write for us!

Got something to say? Something to review? News to discuss? Well we want to hear from you! Click here for more info

  • The F-Word on Twitter
  • The F-Word on Facebook
  • Our XML Feeds