Every box a soapbox

OK ladies (gentlemen, close your eyes) — when’s the last time you read your tampon box?

Not lately? Me either. That’s why I found it so amusing to find this message on the inside of the flap:


Unplug electronics when you’re not using them

et en Francais pour les Canadiens


Débranchez les apparells électroniques après avoir fini de les utiliser

As a marketer, I always try to imagine the meeting that led to something like this appearing on the box. I’ve worked on a few packaging projects over the years (including one for tampons’ cousin, “the pad”) and I can assure you that EVERY element on the box is scrutinized. What it is, where it’s placed, the font, the font size, the color– you name it. So, I imagine it was either (a) quite an excruciating decision to place  a non sequitur like this on the box or (b) decided in 18 seconds…”We need an environmental message? Let’s make it a tip. A whole numbered series of tips. Inside flap.” Boom. Done.

Now, to be fair, as I explored the box further, I found that the idea of touting tampons as environmentally friendly is begun on the outside of the box — “Look inside for ways you can protect the environment or visit [a cutely named website].” I visited the website and it truly is cute (in an environmentally thoughtful way).

So clearly, this decision was of the excruciating variety. And, as a whole, perhaps the whole environmental message makes sense from a “less waste” perspective. But the out-of-the-blue message about turning off electronics just made me laugh. I kept trying to think of a possible connection… “Oh, time to go ‘freshen up…’ better unplug…my computer.”

Why not a tip about remembering to turn off the heating pad you’ve been clutching to your cramp-ridden abdomen for 2 hours while in a fetal position?

Or one about not throwing a plate of spaghetti at that insensitive jerk’s your husband’s head in a PMS-induced fury because that would be wasteful?

Recycling the wrappers from all that chocolate you’re eating?

That led me to think about what other types of unrelated tips might have a home on the tampon box…

Cooking? “Use lemon juice to brighten the flavor of vegetables.”

Car maintenance? “Change the oil every 3,000 miles; rotate tires every 6,000 miles.”

Closet organization? “Haven’t worn it in a year? Donate it.”

Parenting? “Keep children on a consistent schedule for meals and bedtimes.”

But no….the environment is hot (no pun intended)…so that’s the message we’re getting on the tampon box this week.

Next week? I’m hoping for something like…“No new taxes!”

As advertising blather becomes the nation’s
normal idiom, language becomes printed noise.

~ George Will


  1. BoatDrinkBaby said,

    Tuesday, June 7, 2011 at 11:12 am

    Good one Chris.

    Over the past 5 years, I have repeatedly cringed at all of the band-wagon green weenies (inclusive of clients and bosses who forced me, as a marketer, to play along). Do I care for the environment? Yes. Raised in a camping, and rational, family, I have long been made aware of the environment, our effect on it, and the importance of preserving it for the next generation. But this type of thing is just so far beyond lame I want to scream. Everybody trying to be “green” (a word so ridiculously undefined that anyone can claim it) and just regurgitating some set of googled tips about electronics so nobody stops to think about the gazillions of bits of packaging etc. their product or company has sent to the landfill over the years. Were they truly environmentally conscious, perhaps it would be Help the environment . . . unplug? ha!

  2. WritingbyEar said,

    Tuesday, June 7, 2011 at 4:46 pm

    Yeah Baby….unplug. Or they could “plug” the alternative? (Diva cups, anyone?) Too funny.

  3. mel said,

    Tuesday, June 7, 2011 at 5:22 pm

    These kinds of messages used to be on the strip covering the sticky part of panty liners. Of course, then I stopped buying name brands, and it was over–store brands don’t spring for that sort of special treatment.

    If we REALLY wanted to be green, we’d do the frontier thing and wash/reuse cloth strips. “Glad rags,” anyone? (Yes, they actually sell them under that moniker. Look, now you can throw something at that company instead of M.!)

  4. Jacqueline B said,

    Saturday, June 25, 2011 at 3:29 pm

    Hi. Sorry to drop in like this. I am searching for that recipe on the Borden’s jar for mincemeat fruit and nut bars. I see you’ve made it and I wonder if you kept the recipe. I am having a hard time finding it online….

  5. WritingbyEar said,

    Thursday, June 30, 2011 at 11:07 am

    Jacqueline, sorry for the delayed reply. Here’s the recipe: They really are good!

    2 cups unsifted flour
    1 cup sugar
    1/2 tsp. baking soda
    1/2 tsp. salt
    1/2 cup vegetable oil
    1/4 cup milk
    1 (27 oz) jar None Such Mincemeat
    1 cup chopped nuts

    Preheat oven to 400. In a large mixing bowl, combine dry ingredients. Add oil and milk, stirring until mixture is well moistened and crumbly. Reserving 1 cup crumb mixture, press remainder firmly on bottom of 13″x9″ baking pan. Top with mincemeat. Sprinkle evenly with remaining crumb mixture, then nuts. Bake 30 minutes or until golden brown. Cool. Chill if desired. Cut into bars. Store loosely covered at room temperature.

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