When it comes to feminine hygiene products, I’m your man.

It’s going to be a very long weekend. Before I get into the ‘why’ let me first wish you the happiest of Thanksgiving weekends, if you are in the US, and if not, you know my thoughts are with you anyway.

I would also ask you to share this as widely as you dare, as I am trying to build followers. I appreciate your help. Let me adjust my skirt and tell you what this is all about. Being a crossdressing advertising executive does give me something of a unique perspective on things.

Now, the weekend. It all started when I overheard Joe, at the advertising agency, saying very intensely into his phone, “when it comes to feminine hygiene products, I’m your man!”

In case you’re unaware I work for a busy advertising agency as an account executive. Joe is a senior account exec, and runs a number of large accounts, including Allied Brands And Concepts (ABC Corp). Shortly after I overheard this unlikely declaration I was called into an urgent creative meeting along with a selection of other staff.

I was the last into the boardroom, and drawing the short straw found myself seated next to Jack, the head of finance. Jack’s a pretty notorious character and very prickly. Moments after I arrived Barry, the CEO called the meeting to some semblance of order.

“What’s it all about, Joe?” said Barry.

“Well, ABC has been let down by one of their other agencies. They want us to pick up the ball and run with it on a product they’re bringing to market,” said Joe.

“So, why the urgency?” asked Sylvia, the steel haired hard-nosed VP of marketing.

“They don’t want to change their launch date, having already bought a lot of advertising. So, they want to get something out fast. No one else will touch it, but it might be a good chance for us to add another product,” said Joe.

“So, just how tight is the schedule on this thing?” asked Sylvia.

“Very,” said Joe. I sensed my weekend disappearing. “One month.”

There was a collective gasp from around the table.

“May I ask what the product is,” I said softly.

“Well, yes. Of course. Tampons.” Joe looked a little awkward. “Very high end.”

Darren, VP of Creative Services looked a little puzzled, then said, “I never really thought there was a ‘high end’ tampon.”

There was a heavy silence around the boardroom table.

“Do we have a name to work with,” I asked.

“No,” replied Joe. “That’s part of the brief. Come up with a name and a catchline. Packaging ideas. The client wants to differentiate it from other products in the market.”

He continued, “Launch is in 30 days. So we need some ideas pretty sharp.”

At this point Jack said, “This sounds damned tight.”

“It also sounds damned profitable,” said Barry. “The client wouldn’t be asking us to do this if they weren’t in a hell of a corner. And we could use the revenue at the moment. You know that, Jack.”

At this point, Sylvia who had been doodling on a legal pad looked up and said, “It’s going to be all about differentiation. How is this product different?”

“A tampon’s a tampon, right?” said Jack.

“Who made you head of tampons,” asked Sylvia. They’d always been friction between these two.

Joe cut in, “The client’s over a barrel. They’ve given us complete creative freedom.”

A thoughtful silence returned to the boardroom. After a few moments Sylvia said “Red.”

Everyone looked a little surprised.

“No one ever marketed tampons in red packaging,” she went on.

Jack snorted. “For good reason. You can’t use red packaging in a feminine hygiene product. It’d be like calling it ‘The slaughterhouse edition’.”

“Come on. It’s time for a change. Disruption, remember,” persisted Sylvia.

“But don’t you think that a little too graphic,” said Darren.

“Not at all,” said Sylvia. “You’re not bloody squeamish, are you?”

“Bloody squeamish about captures it,” muttered Jack.

“But really, why not? It’s going to stand out on the shelves, we’d get immediate brand recognition and the press is going to be all over it,” said Sylvia.

There was an awkward silence in the room until it was broken by one of the junior staff.

“We’ve still got some creative content left over from that pitch in spring for the ice-cream company. “Raspberry Surprise” wasn’t it?”

“There might be something in that,” said Sylvia. “It would certainly grab the media.”

Jack looked indignant.

“And how long will that last? A month? Two?”

“Long enough,” said Barry. “What we really need is a great catchline.”

Again silence descended on the boardroom.

I quietly adjusted my chair to it’s full height. I’ve always found that helps convey authority, even when I know nothing about what I am talking about.

“Well, I have some thoughts on that,” I said.

“Go ahead,” said Barry.

“Well, we’re never going to displace Tampax. It just won’t happen. But do you remember that car hire ad. They said something about being the second place in the market made them try harder.”

Barry cut in immediately, “Yeah. Avis did that in ’62. They only dropped it a few years ago. You know what their catchline is now?”

I floundered a little. “No,” I said nervously.

“No,” replied Barry. “Nor does anyone else. That line was genius.”

I stood up and smoothed my burgundy pencil skirt, and stepped to the head of the boardroom table, to the white board. Taking the red marker I wrote in large letters, “Raspberry Surprise, we may not be number one but we’re up there!”

Barry looked at me and smiled.

It’s going to be a long weekend. I am often online, so don’t be shy, come to my site and say ‘hi’.

Fiona Dobson

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