Ahead of National Period Day, ‘See Red’ Argues for Menstruation Visibility

Period.org is spearheading the 'menstrual movement'

a woman with lots of curly hair having a nosebleed
BBDO San Francisco created the video for nonprofit Period.org to promote National Period Day on Oct. 19. Period.org
Headshot of Minda Smiley

In more than 30 states across the U.S., menstrual products are subject to sales taxes since they are not deemed a necessity. One nonprofit is trying to change that via the first National Period Day.

On Saturday, Oct. 19, Period.org will hold rallies nationwide to address the issue as well as call for greater access to menstrual products in schools, shelters and prisons. To spread the word about National Period Day, the organization tapped BBDO San Francisco to create a video called “See Red” encouraging people to rethink how society tends to treat and talk about periods.

In the spot, men and women suffering nosebleeds drive home the point that periods wouldn’t be as stigmatized if people could actually see the blood.

There’s a “crisis that’s being ignored because we don’t see it,” according to the video, noting that the taboos and taxes surrounding periods have a particularly adverse impact on low-income women, who are often forced to use rags, tissues and even paper towels taken from public bathrooms while menstruating.

“Society might be getting ever-so-slightly more comfortable acknowledging that periods exist, but until we’re OK with women free-bleeding in the streets, we better work harder to make pads and tampons accessible to all,” said Kate Catalinac, creative director at BBDO San Francisco.

Period.org is a global nonprofit founded five years ago with the goal of ending period poverty and stigma through service, education and advocacy. The “See Red” video, which is running on social channels and was sponsored by sustainable cleaning brand Seventh Generation, comes just weeks after period-proof underwear brand Thinx debuted an ad that imagines a world where men also get periods.

In recent years, a number of organizations have taken issue with what is often dubbed the “tampon tax.” Earlier this year, a German startup that sells organic tampons won the Grand Prix in PR at Cannes Lions for creating a book that doubles as packaging for its products, the reason being that books are taxed at a lower rate than tampons in the country.

Two years ago, J. Walter Thompson New York created an ad for nonprofit Period Equity that featured Amber Rose. In the video, Rose keeps her tampons in a diamond-studded locket around her neck, which serves as a not-so-subtle dig at states that tax menstrual products as if they’re a luxury.

Creative Agency: BBDO San Francisco
Chief Executive Officer, San Francisco: Jim Lesser
Chief Creative Officer, San Francisco: Matt Miller
Creative Director / Copywriter: Kate Catalinac
Creative Director / Art Director: Corinne Goode
Executive Producer: Louise Doherty
Interactive Producer: Leslie Seder
Business Affairs Manager: Nihad Peavler
SVP, Group Account Director: Kim Fredkin
Account Supervisor: Kimberly Bodker
Content Creator: Bentley Rawle
Editor: Dalan McNabola
Director: Free the Bid
Director: Pam Thomas
DP: Free the Bid
Director of Photography: Tami Reiker
Production Company: Community Films
Executive Producer: Lizzie Schwartz
Executive Producer: Carl Swan
Line Producer: Tony Cantale
Makeup & Costume
Key Makeup: Brenna Bash
Key Costumer: Julie Vogel
Music & Composing: Alibi Music
VP Strategic Initiatives and Composer: Kent Carter
Executive Producer: Jonathan Parks
Sound Mix & Edit: One Union Recording
President/Owner: John McGleenan
Senior Engineer: Joaby Deal
Senior Engineer: Matt Wood
Executive Producer: Jaylen Block-Smith
Color: Company 3
Vice President: Ashley McKim
Senior Producer: Matt Moran
Colorist: Jill Bogdanowicz
VFX: Method Studios
VFX Artist: Matt Welch
VFX Producer: Heather Saunders
Period Founder & Executive Director: Nadya Okamoto
Enfranchisement Productions: Brad Jenkins

@Minda_Smiley minda.smiley@adweek.com Minda Smiley is an agencies reporter at Adweek.