CLOSE-UP: CLIENT OF THE WEEK; Tampax ends action formula

Tampax’s latest spot goes beyond the generic action format, Mairi Clark argues

Tampax’s latest spot goes beyond the generic action format, Mairi Clark


Mention Tampax’s advertising, and images of rollerskating action women

dressed in figure-hugging leotards spring to mind. Not any more. Simon

Thorpe, the marketing director of Tambrands UK, has changed all that.

If you haven’t seen the Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO ad that broke during

Four Weddings and a Funeral last week, it depicts beautiful, young women

being, well, beautiful, and concentrates on them feeling confident and

attractive. The endline proclaims: ‘Tampax. The freedom within.’

Thorpe explains: ‘This ad signals a move away from the generic category

formula of all-action, skateboarding, sky-diving scenarios associated

with the 80s. Viewers have had enough of these, as well as product

demonstrations using blue liquid.’

Yet AMV’s ‘freedom within’ endline raised a few eyebrows at the

Broadcast Advertising Clearance Centre. But, as Thorpe points out,

consumer research proved a useful weapon: ‘We have always worked hand-

in-hand with the BACC through every step. As soon as it voiced concerns,

we did extensive research into what was acceptable and what wasn’t.’

Thorpe joined Tambrands eight years ago as UK product manager, after the

obligatory five years at Unilever. He worked in the oil refinery at the

soap powder giant, having completed a chemistry degree at Birmingham


Thorpe shares a love of chemistry with his wife, a teacher, and also has

a passion for horse racing (they own two race horses). Seems a bit

extravagant? ‘We bought them with a friend,’ Thorpe explains modestly.

‘They’re not that impressive.’

When Thorpe was first headhunted by Tambrands, he joined the field sales

team selling tampons to the trade. ‘That was a bit of a challenge,’ he


But not all of his family share his passionate interest in tampons. His

father refuses to acknowledge that he works for Tambrands. ‘He always

tells people I work for an American pharmaceutical company. He’ll come

round - in ten years or so,’ Thorpe laughs.

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