“Honey, can you pick me up some Tampax?” – and Other Brand Success Stories

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As a PR person, I am constantly being asked how to best measure the success of a brand.

Certainly, there are several measures to determine such things, one more data-driven than the next.

But, when it comes down to any common brand – I personally measure its success using my “Tampax Test,” which is something Steph or Rachel would probably call their “iPhone Test” or something Apple-y.

The Tampax Test is quite simple:

  • Think of an everyday product, feminine hygiene products in this case (sorry guys!).
  • Think of what you would call this something in casual conversation, or in the case of the above, if needing someone else to pick this something up for you.
  • If the answer to what you would call this something is actually the brand name – not the product itself – then that brand has hit a homerun. They own you. They own all of us.

Some of my favorites:

  • Tampax, rather than tampon or feminine hygiene product
  • Vaseline, rather than Petroleum Jelly
  • Q-Tips, rather than cotton swabs
  • iPad, rather than tablet
  • Band-Aids, rather than adhesive bandages
  • Kleenex, rather than tissues
  • Xerox, rather than copy machine
  • Scotch Tape, rather than clear tape
  • Porta-Potty, rather than outhouse (not actually sure what to call it!)

What are some other good ones? Comment below!

Alison Bailin
Alison Bailin
Senior Account Executive Alison has a lot to say…about pretty much everything...all the time. From the current state of public relations to the social media impact on Shark Week to crisis communications in the sports world, Alison’s blogs are focused on “amusing through her PR musings,” and then some. Check out Alison's full bio


  1. RJ says:

    Google, rather than search engine

  2. Tampax Test. It conveys the idea perfectly. I would suggest Rimmel that in Italy is often used in place of “cosmetic product for eyelashes”

  3. Kelly Potts says:

    Jacuzzi vs. hot tub

  4. Jacuzzi for whirlpool/hot tub/spa — I used to write for a national pool/spa trade journal and Jacuzzi was known to get very upset if their brand name was used as a noun. Same with PebbleTec for a pebble-type pool finish… And just yesterday, I learned another one, not really a “product” but found it interesting, and that is Ping-Pong, which apparently is a brand – the game is table tennis.

  5. I also believe one of these is “dumpster” — a brand that has become a generic noun. My mother used to talk about her “frigidaire” — meaning her refrigerator, which was not a Frigidaire brand… :O)

  6. Stephanie Lough says:

    Any brand of soft drink. When was the last time you heard someone order a “cola” or a “lemon-lime soda”? Exception maybe for grape and orange soda….

  7. Paula – you won’t believe this, but HMA used to work for Jacuzzi! So maybe a vintage Scott Hanson is responsible for one of the Tampax Test winners!

  8. Scott Hanson says:

    Does this count? Tommy John Surgery vs. ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) reconstruction.

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