In October 2012 a man called Richard Neill posted on Bodyform’s Facebook page and very quickly in the space of a couple of weeks got over 100,000 likes. His post read:
‘Hi , as a man I must ask why you have lied to us for all these years . As a child I watched your advertisements with interest as to how at this wonderful time of the month that the female gets to enjoy so many things ,I felt a little jealous. I mean bike riding , rollercoasters, dancing, parachuting, why couldn't I get to enjoy this time of joy and 'blue water' and wings !! Dam my penis!! Then I got a girlfriend, was so happy and couldn't wait for this joyous adventurous time of the month to happen .....you lied !! There was no joy , no extreme sports , no blue water spilling over wings and no rocking soundtrack oh no no no. Instead I had to fight against every male urge I had to resist screaming wooaaahhhhh bodddyyyyyyfooorrrmmm bodyformed for youuuuuuu as my lady changed from the loving , gentle, normal skin coloured lady to the little girl from the exorcist with added venom and extra 360 degree head spin. Thanks for setting me up for a fall bodyform , you crafty bugger’
Bodyform responded with this video, using humour, sarcasm and taboo subject matter, which continues a humorous dialogue with Richard Neill and tackles the issue of accurately advertising women's hygiene products without using unrealistic metaphors. Using humour and taboo subjects has been shown to attract attention and enhance recall and, if the two are used in conjunction, the ‘tabooness’ of the topic matter can be reduced by humour. Sabri (2012) manipulated the levels of humour and taboo in print advertising and found this effect. In this social media context with a British audience, this viral ad seems to perfectly measure how the use of humour to discuss taboo subject matters can create an amusing, memorable and effective advertisement.
Sabri, O (2012). Taboo advertising: Can humour help to attract attention and enhance recall? Journal of Marketing Theory & Practice, 20(4), 407-422.