It’s difficult to know something well if that thing is deemed too taboo to discuss openly.
That’s the concept behind Tampax’s latest ad campaign starring comedian and actor Amy Schumer, who has a track record of exploring uncomfortable topics in her films and stand-up specials.
In a series of videos that feel more like comedy sketches than commercials—all directed by Kathy Fusco of Hungry Man—Schumer confronts misconceptions about menstruation with those around her, whether it’s in a drugstore, public restroom, doctor’s office or shopping mall. The spots, which were co-written by Schumer and her team, are scheduled to air on TV, digital and social media.
In one clip, Schumer coyly asks a woman next to her in a restroom if she can borrow a tampon, only to learn that tampons come in a variety of sizes to manage a variety of flows. Minutes later, Schumer shares her newfound knowledge with another woman in need of a tampon.
Plenty of people, it seems, still have questions about periods.
Four in 10 women, for instance, aren’t fully confident they know the correct way to insert a tampon. A small, yet not insignificant percentage of the American population—7%—believe a tampon can take a woman’s virginity. And almost everyone—94%—isn’t sure how long the average menstrual cycle lasts.
That’s according to a mid-March survey involving over 2,000 U.S. adults conducted by the Harris Poll on behalf of the Procter & Gamble-owned tampon brand.
“When I started working with Tampax, it made my heart hurt to hear about the discomfort people are putting up with because they don’t understand periods or even how to use a tampon properly, and I want to do everything I can to change that,” said Schumer in a statement. “My hope is that through this partnership, we’ll educate ourselves and each other and take the senseless shame out of getting your period.”
The aim of the campaign, titled “It’s Time to Tampax” and created with Publicis Groupe, is to help address the ignorance surrounding periods by weakening the stigma that prevents people from learning. The best way to get people into a mindset to learn, Tampax found through research, was through laughter.
“Humor was by far the most effective way to do that,” said Melissa Suk, vice president of North America for P&G’s Tampax and Always brands. “So we really landed on humor was the strategy, and then Amy became the vehicle to deliver that strategy.”
While Suk knew the campaign needed a known spokesperson capable of handling the subject matter, the process of finding one willing to do it wasn’t easy.
“Not a lot of celebrities want to talk about periods, and they certainly don’t want to talk about helping people insert tampons,” said Suk.
Only after stumbling upon Schumer’s 2019 Netflix special Amy Schumer: Growing the weekend it debuted did Suk find her match. During her routine, Schumer jokes about the shame surrounding periods and having to ask someone in a gym locker room if she could borrow a tampon.
Schumer and Tampax have agreed to work together for the next 18 months, meaning more content is yet to come.
“This is not a three-month campaign for us,” said Suk, who intends to make conversations about tampons and periods as normal as, well, periods. “This is the beginning of a much larger education movement.”
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