Blue-colored liquid has been ubiquitous in ads promoting feminine hygiene products
Sanitary pad
Credit: Getty

Kotex is keeping it real.

The feminine hygiene product brand has debuted a new ad using a realistic-looking red liquid to represent period blood, instead of the blue-colored liquid that has been used in many commercials for decades.

In an ad for one of the brand’s ultra-thin pads, which was shared on U by Kotex’s Instagram account, the brand illustrates how absorbent its products are in comparison to a competitor’s products by pouring the red liquid onto the two pads. “Can your pad keep up?” the ad reads.

“Blood is blood. This is something that every woman has experienced, and there is nothing to hide,” Sarah Paulsen, creative and design director for Kimberly-Clark’s North American feminine-care brands, told the Wall Street Journal.

Kotex appears to be the first mainstream brand to use realistic-looking liquid in its ads, the newspaper pointed out, adding that the fluid used in the commercial is the same synthetic material Kimberly-Clark uses while testing and developing their products.

The approach has also been applauded on social media.

“Thank you ❤️❤️❤️ so real,” one Instagram user commented on the post, while another added, “Thank you for using red liquid!! Yaaas ?.”

“It’s so unbelievable how some brands are still using blue liquid to represent period blood …it’s 2020 ? Thank you thank you thank you,” a third commenter wrote.

Over the past few years, several smaller brands have also promoted their feminine-care products using red-colored fluid.

In 2017, Bodyform, a U.K.-based brand, debuted a 20-second ad which used red liquid to demonstrate the effectiveness of its products and ended with the message: “Periods are normal. Showing them should be too.” The brand was credited with being the first to use realistic-looking fluid to depict menstruation.

“We know that the ‘period taboo’ is damaging,” the brand’s marketing manager Traci Baxter told Cosmopolitan UK at the time. “It means people are more likely to struggle with the effects of period poverty, whilst others struggle with their mental health and wellbeing. As a leader in feminine hygiene, we want to change this by challenging the taboo and ultimately removing the stigma, making it even easier for anyone to talk about periods, now and in the future.”

The company also pointed to a survey conducted among 10,000 women, in which 74 percent of respondents said they wanted to see more realism in how periods were represented by brands in advertisements.

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Cora, a U.S. feminine-care startup, also began using red fluid in their ads in 2018, according to the Wall Street Journey.

Although the ads were initially removed from social media over complaints about their graphic content, company co-founder Molly Hayward told the newspaper that the decisions were quickly reversed. “There is a greater appetite and readiness for honesty around this,” Hayward said.

Last year, the Advertising Standards Board also ruled that an ad by Australian-based company Libra — which was the first to depict period blood on Australian television — wasn’t in violation of “prevailing community standards,” despite some complaints by viewers, according to The Guardian.