Periods: An Evolution in the Indian TV Ads

Photo by Natracare on Unsplash

Buying a pack of condom or sanitary pads has always invited death stares from the shopkeepers and carrying it like a suitcase full of stolen treasure after a bank robbery is something most of us have faced. It was normal to bring back the sanitary pads wrapped in a 12 page newspaper and to be doubly sure handed in a black polybag. And not to our surprise periods come every month with 100% free extra taboos because it makes one impure, futile and not being able to worship and touch pickles. None of this is true!

But India has changed ever since and so have the Indian TV ads for sanitary napkins . And hopefully we will get to see more ads in the future with a realistic approach and less false claims.

The first time I used sanitary pads there were very few options in the market and I only knew big and established brands like whisper, stayfree and sofy. But the number of players in this game have increased tremendously and we hear not only about brands that sell sanitary napkins but tampons, menstrual cups and Period panties and also pre and post menstrual related products for better hygiene and relief during periods. Period!

The Pad — Ad

The first ever sanitary napkin ad in India was aired in 1993 by whisper brand and this revolutionary commercial created awareness of the need of pads over clothes that are unhygienic and causes vaginal infections and diseases. This ad also helped in busting myths. As we can imagine it wasn’t an easy job where nobody talked about it. This was the very first time knowledge and usage of pad was ever shared on Indian Television starring Renuka Sahane, female lead of the long running show “Surabhi” shares her experience on how whisper made her period life better.

Within no time the word started to spread through television, newspaper and other media and several awareness campaigns were run throughout the country.


When you turn on your TV and see an ad for a sanitary pad, you’ll see the girl becomes highly energetic and super active once she switches to XYZ pads. And at this point there is something wrong with these advertisements. Periods have a lot to do with period cramps, stains, mood swings and low energy to even move a muscle and less to do with excess energy to do sports, go swimming and ride a horse. And how wearing a pad changes everything in a bleeding woman’s world is still unknown.

And what’s with those white bed sheets, white curtains and white pants as if we specifically keep our white clothes for periods to get stained.

But recently the advertising world has shown some affirmative approaches and included men into the conversation. In an ad for Raho Safe Pads there is a father daughter interaction about how her little girl doesn’t want dolls anymore and is now grown up. The father keeps suggesting presents for his daughter’s thirteenth birthday but finds her buying a pack of sanitary pads and then understands that her world is changing. There is a short film “ First Period” that shows how the world would’ve adjusted if there were only men who bleed. How conveniently they would accept it and make it easier for them to live with this fact. I highly recommend watching this short film.

We don’t Bleed Blue

What difference do you see when there is a baby’s diaper ad and sanitary pad ad, don’t you think they look the same. Come on, we are bleeding, not peeing. If you pay close attention some ads don’t even mention the word “period” they substitute it with words like mushkil din or kathin din (hard days) or un dino (those days). Sometimes they whisper too. I mean it’s not Lord Voldemort- The one who shall not be named!

We all grew up watching ads with pads soaking blue ink on the screen wondering what’s going on exactly.

But this stigma is now being challenged, recently an ad campaign for Rio Pads featuring Radhika Apte holding a red balloon with red drops of blood coming out of it draws the attention towards how the heavy flow days are like. To our surprise this campaign was blocked after several complaints for it is gross to see blood on screen. Though the bars were removed later. And now, there are not only ads in the digital space but also in the traditional media( television) that are talking about it openly.

Periods are a natural phenomenon and not some unhygienic occurrence. This is time when we don’t shy away from speaking about it and accept by not censoring it on screens.

Hey readers, I hope you enjoyed the blog and If you did it will really motivate me if you clap down this post. Please share your thoughts in the comment section. I’ll be happy to read them




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Apoorva Shrivastava

Apoorva Shrivastava

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