When were tampons invented? TAMPAX Incorporated was formally chartered under the laws of the State of Delaware on Saturday, March 7, 1936. The first executive recruit in tampon history was Thomas F. Casey, the choice for vice president and treasurer. Casey had spent 10 years in the accounting department at Ellery Mann’s previous employer, Zonite. Mann’s other executive recruit was Earle A. Griswold, Zonite’s production manager, whom he hired as vice president in charge of manufacturing.
These three, Mann, Casey and Griswold were pivotal figures in the history of tampons and would guide TAMPAX for the next two decades. Mann had the good sense to select men with the expertise and temperament to complement his own special talents and personality. He gave them authority and then left them alone.
When tampons were invented the new product had to be efficiently manufactured, of course, and strict accounting procedures put into place. Most of all, however, it had to be marketed, advertised, sold and distributed, and this was Mann’s pivotal role. Mann’s marketing plans took aim at three different audiences: doctors, the drug trade and consumers. Personal contact, the gift of the gab, careful planning—all were essential to the TAMPAX sales effort. Mann knew from the beginning, however, that without sufficient advertising, the effort was doomed to failure. This insight is commonplace today, of course, but Mann was one of the handful of executives during the 1930s who fully grasped advertising’s potential.
In trade magazines such as his old Drug Store Retailing he emphasised the opportunities for profit inherent in stocking and promoting his new product. By contrast, the ads in the AMA Journal and various nursing magazines typically featured anatomical drawings and a technical description of the tampon; they sought to educate the professionals who were in a position to advise women about the product. The first ad in the AMA Journal asserted that “over 3,000 doctors have written to us inquiring about TAMPAX” and offered to send interested doctors a free package of tampons and a folder detailing their use.
The most important ads of all were those directed at the consumer. Making tampon history, a few such ads appeared in New York City newspapers during the first spring. But the central thrust would be national magazines, and Mann began working on ideas for his magazine campaign almost immediately after incorporation. Advertising such a sensitive topic to a national audience would require just the right touch, a combination of aggressive selling and delicate good taste.
The first ad appeared on Sunday, July 26, 1936, in the American Weekly. A Sunday supplement that was inserted in many major newspapers, it claimed the greatest circulation in the world, with around 11 million buyers.
These visual themes, together with those developed in the text, prefigured concepts that would prevail in the company’s advertising throughout tampon history, to this day.
Earle Griswold geared up to make tampons early that summer of 1936. Griswold was not alone. He had valuable help from two men. One was Harry Stein; the other, a lanky mechanical engineer, was J. Ralph McLaughlin.