See more Kotex items: First ad (1921; scroll to bottom of page) - ad, 1928 (Sears and Roebuck catalog) - Lee Miller ads (first real person in a menstrual hygiene ad, 1928) - Marjorie May's Twelfth Birthday (booklet for girls, 1928, Australian edition; there are many links here to Kotex items) - Preparing for Womanhood (1920s, booklet for girls; Australian edition) - 1920s booklet in Spanish showing disposal method - box from about 1969 - "Are you in the know?" ads (Kotex) (1949)(1953)(1964)(booklet, 1956) - See more ads on the Ads for Teenagers main page
The first Kotex ad campaign
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Advice to Merchants about Selling Kotex (page for a trade
publication, 1920s, U.S.A.)

Early on, in 1921, women were reluctant to buy the new product Kotex because it meant asking a clerk for a box (even though the company supposedly invented the word "Kotex" so women wouldn't have to say "sanitary napkin"). Adman Albert Lasker, who worked on the Kotex campaign in the early 1920s, wrote in Advertising Age (15 December 1952), "Just a few of us talked to our wives and asked them if they used Kotex, and we found they didn't, and in almost every case it was because they didn't like to ask the druggist for it."

The page below (from the State Historical Society of Wisconsin), made by the Kotex producers for a trade magazine, told stores how to sell the embarrassing product: stack the boxes on the counter rather than making the lady ask for one. Apparently Albert Lasker, the "Father of American Advertising," of the Lord & Thomas agency, added the idea of placing a coin box next to the stack of boxes, completely eliminating the need for a woman to speak to anyone. People seemed to be more trustworthy then. I wonder when that stopped?

(Isn't that a neat hat and cape the woman at left is wearing? Women dressed up to go shopping at least through the 1950s in Washington, D.C.)

Wallace Meyer, in a statement dated 21 September 1960 in his papers at the State Historical Society of Wisconsin, disputes Lasker's claim in an Advertising Age article, dated 15 December 1952, to have invented the idea of stacking the boxes on the counter. He writes,

In making this claim for Lord & Thomas [Lasker's advertising agency] someone made a mistake[,] for the original agency, The Charles F. W. Nichols Company [Meyer's company], discovered and and promoted the wrapped package idea before Mr. Lasker became interested [in Kotex]. The idea was first reported by a copywriter, O. T. Frash, while in Watertown, Wisconsin, on a field trip. He saw it in an Apothecary Shop owned by a German-American druggist who found that women would buy many more packages if they were wrapped in plain white paper and tied with blue string, then piled on the counter in a pyramid surmounted by a small neat card reading, "Kotex - Take a box - 65 cents."

By the way, some early Modess ads had coupons women could cut out and hand to clerks ("Silent Purchase" coupons) so they wouldn't have to ask for the pads; apparently stores were not piling them on the counter.
And in Germany, stores selling Camelia, the second German disposable pad, invented in 1926, put a note in each box of the pads; a woman gave the note back to the clerk when she needed more pads. The notes asked the clerk for another box of Camelia. And signs in the stores told women to ask a female clerk when buying Camelia.

The first Kotex ad campaign

From the State Historical Society of Wisconsin
See more Kotex items
: First ad (1921; scroll to bottom of page) - ad, 1928 (Sears and Roebuck catalog) -
Lee Miller ads (first real person in a menstrual hygiene ad, 1928)

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