Four years ago, Thinx appeared on the personal hygiene scene with controversial ads on the New York subway that used grapefruits and eggs to suggest menstruation.
Now, for its first national campaign, the “period-proof” underwear brand is once again reinventing the conventional wheel on periods by debuting a new campaign that asks whether everyone would be more comfortable with periods if men had them.
The “MENstruation” ad, created by agency BBDO New York and directed by Rachel McDonald, shows men in different but common situations that women face during their periods, such as leaving a stain on bedsheets or accidentally dropping pads and tampons. The national campaign is set to run online and across 18 TV networks beginning Oct. 9.
“Part of our DNA is to start conversations and open up subjects we haven’t been able to open up before,” says Siobhan Lonergan, chief brand officer of Thinx. “If we all had periods, would we be more comfortable about them? And so we used certain vignettes and placed them in everyday situations really to highlight some of the challenges we all face with periods.”
The campaign comes just weeks after the company raised a $25 million Series A round, having reached $50 million in revenue before raising any money.
Lonergan said Thinx was always planning on creating a national campaign, but the new funding allowed it to invest in a larger media spend. The brand will be airing 15- and 30-second versions of the full 90-second ad for eight weeks in the U.S. across Bravo, E!, Oxygen, BET, MTV, VH1, HGTV, Food Network, TLC, NBC and others.
Thinx is expecting to see a 15% lift in search volume and a 10% increase in unaided awareness, and will track sentiment of the ad. The brand plans on using a tracker to measure brand awareness, after running a baseline test a few months ago. In addition to the TV spend, Thinx intends to expand the reach of the campaign with podcast ads and spreading the word with influencers.
“I hope our audience will watch intensely, consider it in a different way and continue to open up that conversation,” Lonergan says.
Although the ad itself does show blood (and not the usual blue liquid stand-in for period blood), Lonergan said the TV spots won’t show that particular scene, as no blood is shown on any traditional TV advertisements.
“It wasn’t something we could really challenge,” Lonergan said.
Lonergan added that the relationship with BBDO is new and that the agency team was “super supportive” and turned the ad around quickly.
BBDO New York’s sister agency, AMV BBDO in London, has been a leader in challenging norms around women’s issues on the global stage in recent years with client Essity’s brands, which include Bodyform and Libresse. AMV BBDO’s #BloodNormal campaign, aimed at getting more accurate in how periods are portrayed in ads, won a Cannes Glass Lion, and the follow-up “Viva La Vulva” campaign won a coveted Black Pencil at this year’s D&AD Awards.
Lonergan says she hopes that Thinx’s “MENstruation” campaign sparks conversations in America beyond just the brand and gets audiences questioning the pointless daily obstacles many women face.
“This is a bigger idea, and hopefully we can really make change by putting this commercial out there,” Lonergan said.
Agency: BBDO New York
Bianca Guimaraes, VP Creative Director
Peter Alsante, VP Creative Director
Jenn Tranbarger, ACD/AD
Jess Rello, ACD/CW
David Lubars, Chief Creative Office, Worldwide
Greg Hahn, Chief Creative Office, New York
Angela Narloch, Executive Producer
Anthony Curti, Executive Producer
Corie Rosenblatt, Producer
Yamaris Leon, Content Operations Director
Julia Millison, Music Producer
Shelly Bloch, Business Manager
Dave Rolfe, Head of Integrated Production
Katherine Grib, Account Director
Olivia Dames, Account Executive
Crystal Rix, Chief Strategy Officer
Nicole Landesman, SVP Brand Strategist
Kim Ryneska, SVP Brand Strategist
Christine Yang, Data Solutions Manager
Maria Molland, CEO
Siobhán Lonergan, Chief Brand Officer
Hilary Fischer-Groban, Brand Director
Meng Shui, Creative Director
Daniella Sakhai, Senior Manager of Performance Marketing
Meredith Zingale, Brand and Creative Project Manager
Shawn Lacy, Partner/Managing Director
Rachel McDonald, Director
Autumn Durald Arkapaw, Director of Photography
Holly Vega, Executive Producer
Mercedes Allen-Sarria, Head of Production
Rachel Glaub, Head of Production
Maury Strong, Line Producer
Sila Soyer, Executive Producer
Arlene Perez, Producer
Laura Sanford, Editor
Jeff Lopus, Editor
Max Hoffman, Assistant Editor
Sound Design: Heard City
Gloria Pitagorsky, MD/Partner
Eric Warzecha, Audio Engineer
Color: Company 3
Sofie Borup, Colorist
Alexandra Lubrano, Producer
Finishing Company: The Mill
Bethany Phillips, Producer
Luke Proctor, Producer
Anton Anderson, VFX Artist
David Forcada, VFX Artist
Justin Keil, VFX Artist
Jamie Scott, VFX Artist
Drew Maloney, VFX Artist
Sam Caine, VFX Artist
Corey Brown, VFX Artist