Responses by Hilary Fischer-Groban, brand director, Thinx, Kat Grib, account director, Jenn Tranbarger, associate creative director/art director and Jessica Rello, associate creative director/copywriter, BBDO New York
Background: Periods are topics that have been taboo for too long, and it’s about time to bring that conversation to the forefront. So, we imagined an answer to this question: If everybody had a period, would we all be more comfortable with them? Our goal for this national campaign was to encourage these dialogues, and ultimately ignite change in this space.
Reasoning: The first thing you’re taught about your period is to be ashamed of it. Forget cramps, the way society makes us feel is the most painful part. We realized the main reason the stigma exists is because only half the population has periods. And until everyone can relate and empathize, the taboo can’t be broken. We wanted to show how normal periods would be if everyone had them. And that’s how we came up with the one-minute twenty-second spot “MENstruation.” We imagined a world where every body is comfortable with periods in hopes that one day, we all will be.
Challenges: Getting networks to air the spot as it was originally intended. We knew we’d run into hurdles, such as removing scenes that featured menstrual blood as it’s still banned from major networks, but we didn’t anticipate getting scrutiny over the tampon string as well. The spot was getting banned for the exact point it was trying to make—if everyone was more comfortable with periods, sensitivity and censorship around the topic wouldn’t exist.
Favorite details: The conversations that are happening because of the film. The biggest hurdle in normalizing periods is getting people to talk about them. We wanted to create a piece of work with enough talk value to jumpstart the conversation. We were walking a fine line with this campaign and that people would either love it or hate it. But to us, either reaction was positive because it got people talking. And that’s the first step in creating change.
Time constraints: The timing was ambitious; we briefed the project the first week of August with only six weeks to get a national, boundary-pushing campaign on air. Although very tight, the time constraints made the project that much more authentic. We didn’t have time to overthink or scrutinize each scene; we trusted our gut to create the most authentic, relatable moments that would resonate with all people—regardless of whether or not they have a period.
Specific demands: In order for this campaign to be effective, we needed to show periods in their most authentic light. Unfortunately, the most relatable imagery is often considered “unacceptable” to air on TV. Network censorship around our bloodstain and tampon string vignettes further demonstrated the need for this campaign to exist. Once news broke that some major networks were perpetuating the stigma by banning the imagery, our most visually provocative scene—the tampon string—was finally accepted. We’re proud to say that this is the first “in-use” tampon to ever air in an ad on national television.