Tampon 'ad' jumps the shark

Last updated 15:53 26/06/2013

PROMOTION OR MOCKERY?: Is this entirely viral spoof? Or actually a clever hype for a brand?

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Advertising for sanitary products have become more daring in recent times, however a Russian commercial has upped the ante with an R-rating and gruesome special effects.

While Australian consumers lodged official complaints and were "grossed out" by recent advertisements for female hygiene products, which featured the word "vagina" and "get fresh wipes", a seemingly fake and humorous commercial for leak-proof tampons has surfaced online.

Using Spielberg-type special effects, the advertisement shows a woman wading into the ocean to join a friend before being attacked by a (computer-generated) shark and the tag line "Tampax. Now Leak-proof" appearing on the screen.

Since being uploaded to YouTube earlier this year the video has been viewed close to a million times and praised by social media users and international news sites for including references to blood in the 30-second reel.

The clip is a scene from the film Movie 43 and claims to be a spoof.  

Warning: this clip contains scenes which may offend some viewers.

"Even though it is a spoof, we have to admit that it can be kind of refreshing to see an ad for 'feminine hygiene products' that doesn't entirely sidestep the actual issue of menstrual blood. Usually, it's just a bunch of flowers and girls in white jeans running around," Refinery 29 said.

However, marketing expert Michael Callaghan believes the only thing fake about the grotesque commercial is the shark.

"I wouldn't just write it off completely as a spoof, because it has got a real brand in it, there is some underlying possibilities of it being a commercial activity," the lecturer in marketing at Deakin University said.  

"This has been out there for quite some time and could be a subtle endorsement. Tampax would be suing by now if they thought their brand had been misused.

"This is not something to be laughed at as it is terribly horrific, plus it's pretty sexist. But it could be a form of masochistic marketing which is where you trash your own brand in the hope of earning street cred with a new, perhaps younger audience in an attempt to boost sales."  

"Perhaps we've been sucked in by a viral ad that was intended to get people talking about this polarising movie, which some people say is the best thing since sliced bread and others who are saying it's the worst film ever made despite its all-star cast."

The film, which stars Halle Berry, Hugh Jackman, Richard Gere, Kate Winslet and Naomi Watts, appears to be on the same creative wavelength as the Jackass, American Pie and other "gross out" comedy franchises of the late '90s and noughties.

It was produced by Dumb & Dumber co-director Peter Farrelly and is considered by some critics in the US to be "the Citizen Kane of awful." It failed to achieve box office success anywhere and, interestingly, has just been released on DVD. 

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