Sometimes women accidentally experience a little bit of leakage when they laugh or sneeze, especially after they’ve had a kid or two. Yeah, it’s a thing—a somewhat uncomfortable and taboo thing that women don’t openly talk about, let alone embrace. Pee-proof underwear company Icon (sister brand to period-proof underwear brand Thinx, which is known for its daringly taboo ads) is here to change that with its boldly titled “Piss Off” campaign.
“The campaign itself was born out of this idea that our customers are unruly women living in unruly bodies. ‘Piss Off’ is the celebration and a little bit of rebellion,” Kejal MacDonald, VP of marketing for Icon and Thinx, said. “It celebrates a phrase we think women should invoke even more often. It’s a celebration of unruly women who are saying piss off in various ways in their lives so that they are not compromising and they’re living a life that they want to lead.”
Beginning today, 100 Icon ads will appear in 15 neighborhoods across Manhattan and Brooklyn. The outdoor ads feature three women over the age of 30.
“They are all women I want to represent more and say, ‘I know you are getting a lot of beige cardigan messages, but we are here for women that those messages don’t quite resonate with,'” MacDonald noted.
Finding the women didn’t involve a traditional modeling agency casting call. Instead, MacDonald found them by digging through Instagram.
“One of the beautiful constraints of tackling a topic that is oftentimes seen as unsexy and embarrassing is, historically, modeling agencies do not want to work with you, and that is something Thinx encountered early on,” MacDonald explained. “I started looking around for women who were really embodying the spirit of ‘Piss Off’ and who were living on their own terms in a way that felt really aspirational and real and accessible to me.”
She reached out to the three women featured in the campaign and heard back from all of them within 24 hours: They were all on board. The stars include Tara Jepson, a 44-year-old skateboarder and author of “Like a Dog”; Ashley Wright, a 32-year-old pole dancing teacher and mother; and Bella McCloud, a 57-year-old woman pursuing her PhD in clinical psychology in Hawaii.
The brand also created a series of behind the scenes videos featuring the women. Each dives a bit deeper into their respective stories and how “each [woman] embodies this attitude and this spirit, this unruly spirit,” MacDonald explained.
In early December, Icon will roll out the next wave of the campaign–a complete takeover of the Bryant Park subway station. “It’s going to be just amazing. It’s going to be a fully immersive world of talking about pee and women and all of that good stuff,” she said.
Sister brand Thinx is no stranger to bold (and sometimes highly debated) ad campaigns, so the new work for Icon is pretty fitting. In 2015, Thinx released a handful of subway ads for the period-proof underwear, with one particularly eyebrow-raising ad depicting half a grapefruit next to the copy “Underwear for women with periods.” The brand has also championed diversity and equality in its past work; in 2016, Thinx’s subway ads featured a transgender man.