"That's Vaginal!": Summer's Eve Goes Viral?

[Editor's Note: This post was written by Cindy Kok, IMOW's summer programs and exhibitions volunteer.]

How would you describe something that you think is cool, incredible, fun, interesting, or a combination of all of the above? Awesome, perhaps? What about vaginal?

Summer’s Eve, a company that sells vaginal cleansing products, launched their “That’s Vaginal!” spot along with their “Hail to the V!” campaign earlier this summer. This bid to replace the word “awesome” with “vaginal” is part of a rebrand effort done by the Richards’ Group for Summer’s Eve after their widely-criticized sexist 2010 ad instructing women to wash their vaginas before asking for a raise.

In this video, Carlton the Cat calls vaginas the greatest “natural wonder” and scorns the societal attitude that relegates all “synonyms and euphemisms” of vagina to “slurs, bleeped out on broadcast TV.” He goes on to encourage people to “state boldly and proudly” their appreciation for vaginas by using the world “vaginal” in lieu of “awesome” and asking the audience to share things they find “vaginal” at thatsvaginal.com.

However, Carlton’s enthusiasm for vaginas (which he claims to be “entirely academic” in the interest of clearing his species’ good name) doesn’t seem to be catching. The video has only had 375,650 hits since its lauch two months ago and there seem to be few submissions to the site. Personally, it’s hard for me to ignore the underlying fact that this is a calculated marketing ploy; the video’s humor reads like a weak imitation of the Old Spice Guy commercials and its ulterior motive undercuts its genuineness. More than anything else, this viral video campaign is confusing: why is Summer's Eve advocating a message that, if widely embraced, would not be likely to help boost their sales (considering that healthy, self-loving women should know that the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists does not advocate douching and other vaginal cleaning products)?

Despite their questionable intention, Summer’s Eve’s apparent effort to banish the shame associated with talking about vaginas is laudable. “Women tell us they’re ready to embrace talking about their bodies in an open, honest way…we wanted to invent an unexpected, fun way to give it a new, positive place in today's vernacular,” said Angela Bryant, director of U.S. marketing, feminine care for Summer’s Eve. And, if viewers choose to take it at face value, maybe this video—and the rest of Summer Eve’s campaign—actually will lead people to be more open-minded about this issue. The Summer’s Eve website seems to accurately reflect their wholehearted rebranding effort, including sections such as “V Power” and “V 101” to educate with expert articles and glossaries and spur further conversation. Overall, it may not be a "vaginal" advertising campaign, but at least the positive value in the message it presents is a step in the right direction.

Pussycat Puppet Tries to Make “That’s Vaginal” Happen [Jezebel]
“Hail to the V!”: Is Summer’s Eve’s new ad campaign empowering—or just crazy? [Salon]
“That’s Vaginal” is a Befuddling Stab at Viral Advertising [HyperVocal]