Birth of an Icon: Tampax

P&G’s iconic brand Tampax has essentially changed women’s everyday lives forever, providing an innovative and comfortable feminine care option.

Invented by Dr. Earl Haas in the early 1930s, the tampon’s origins actually go as far back as fifth century B.C. The Greek surgeon Hippocrates described a similar object in his writings. In the 1800s, physicians used improvised plugs of cotton to absorb secretions in surgery.

Dr. Haas, inspired by his wife and patients’ wishes for a discreet menstrual care option, created the tampon and its applicator. The applicator was key to the product’s launch and success. The ease of use – for placement and removal – helped overcome some of the initial hesitations women had about using a tampon. But that needed to be communicated, so marketing and education was a critical, yet challenging component to the success of Tampax.

Tampax patent



Education was a core component of the launch of Tampax, and continues to be an important part of Tampax today. “Tampax ladies,” as they were known, visited colleges, department stores and conventions to speak with women about using tampons, the safety of the product and answer questions. Their role was critical to encourage customers try Tampax and spread the word on the benefits and convenience to their friends.

Early advertising messages demonstrate the delicate attempts to address how life-changing use of a tampon could be. Lines like, “The Youthful Silhouette,” and “Happy Swimming Days,” and copy that read, “Tampax saves you from miserable days…” sheds light on what life was like before internal menstrual protection options were widely available.

Tampax had been so successful that management saw little reason to make changes to the product or its packaging. That attitude began to shift in the 1980s and ‘90s, especially once P&G added Tampax to its family of trusted brands in 1997. In fact, in 1998, Time Magazine recognized Tampax as one of the 100 most innovative products of the 20th century, highlighting its impact in making women’s lives easier and more enjoyable.

P&G continues to evolve Tampax and introduce innovations to meet consumers’ demands. Launched in 2002, Tampax Pearl, a smooth plastic applicator with a rounded tip, provides women better comfort. The form-fit tampon expands to fit women’s unique shapes and the Leak-Guard braid helps stops leaks before they happen. The all-new Radiant Collection offers Tampax and Always brand pads, liners, wipes and tampons to meet all of a woman’s feminine care needs.

Tampax store booth

Marketing messages have also evolved to focus on the lifestyle of today’s busy teens and women. The Outsmart Mother Nature campaign, launched in 2008, was the first global marketing campaign for Tampax. The following year, Serena Williams, the great tennis player, brought the campaign to life as the official spokesperson for Tampax.

One focus that has remained true since the launch of Tampax is the emphasis on education. Today, the brand is a trusted source of information relating to menstruation and safely using tampons. Through beinggirl.com, Tampax is connecting with new consumers – helping to answer questions, dispel myths and alleviate concerns. The goal is to help young women understand “Tampax – exists so girls have no limits!” It’s a more modern way of saying what the brand has said since the beginning, that Tampax “Makes everyday life a little better for women.”

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