Libresse/Bodyform is rewriting the rulebook – and it’s working, according to WARC’s Managing Editor, Case Studies, Lucy Aitken.
We love it at WARC when one of our Grand Prix winners returns with a sequel that will undoubtedly see it stacking up the trophies once again.
Earlier this year, Essity-owned feminine hygiene brand Bodyform/Libresse took the Grand Prix in the Effective Use of Brand Purpose category at the WARC Awards. Its incredible #bloodnormal campaign aimed to normalise and celebrate periods. As one of our judges, Jo Arden, Chief Strategy Officer at MullenLowe London wrote in WARC’s Opinion section last week: “#bloodnormal drew a vivid red line in the sand about how we will talk about periods from now on. With one campaign, it has put blue dye out of action the world over.”
It went on to win several Lions at Cannes, as well as being recognised by other eminent awards shows. Margaux Revol, Senior Strategist at AMV BBDO, the agency that works with the brand, spoke at WARC’s Cannes Creative Effectiveness event in August. In an emotional session, she shared her own experiences of period shaming as a young girl. She also asked: “Why do we treat pads and tampons like class-A drugs? Why should periods only be a women’s issue? We included men casually buying and passing pads. We acknowledged period pain, showed periods can be beautiful and destigmatised period intimacy. But more importantly, we showed periods in all their red glory. Because periods aren’t blue.”
After such a show-stopping, category-defying tour de force, it was with some trepidation that I clicked on Viva La Vulva, a three-minute, all-singing, all-dancing ‘ode to vulvas’ that has just been released in Finland, Sweden and Denmark. Uh-oh, I thought. This is either going to be really good. Or really cringe-worthy.
Fortunately, I’d defy anyone but the most po-faced not to find it fun. It’s colourful. Brazenly feminist. Eminently sharable. And the soundtrack – the 1975 version of Take Yo Praise by Camille Yarbrough – better known as a sample on the 1998 Fatboy Slim track Praise You – rocks.
Watch the film, enjoy it, share it on your social networks and learn from it. Libresse is all about breaking taboos and, I have to say, Viva La Vulva is the first time I’ve seen a diagram of a vulva in an ad. Because never mind all the banter about men not being able to locate a clitoris, there’s a lot of ignorance among women about their bodies. And that ignorance could be fatal.
In a global quantitative research conducted by the brand into how women feel about their vulvas, more than two thirds – 68% – don’t technically know what their own vulva is. And nearly half of them (44%) have felt embarrassed by the way their vulva naturally looks, smells or feels. This has led to elective plastic surgery – the quest for the ‘designer vagina’ – or women avoiding smear tests through embarrassment. A recent news story shows that take-up of smear tests has fallen to a 21-year low in England. Around 4.5 million women are invited to have a cervical screening every year and yet 28.6% - 1.3 million women – fail to attend, which could have huge repercussions on their health.
Having made a bold stance against period-shaming, Bodyform/Libresse’s next objective is to contribute to a more open culture about female genitals. And given that vulvas – as well as periods – contribute in no small way to beautiful, life-changing moments including birth, isn’t it about time that they got their time in the sun?
The PR that Viva La Vulva will generate for Bodyform/Libresse will be immense. And let’s remember that it is a challenger brand up against the likes of P&G, which has a pretty chunky media budget for Always.
Expect next year’s awards jurors to be rewarding Viva La Vulva left, right and centre. This one’s going to continue the trajectory of effectiveness for Bodyform/Libresse – which, thanks to #bloodnormal, increased its share of voice versus Always from 37% to 90% in just one month.
I, for one, cannot wait to see what comes next. Achieves equal pay. Makes shared parental leave socially acceptable. Ends FGM. This is a brand that feels like it could achieve absolutely anything right now. All hail Libresse/Bodyform. You are rewriting the very definition of brand bravery.
Entries for the 2019 WARC Awards can be accepted up to 19 February 2019. This year’s Effective Use of Brand Purpose category will be chaired by Burger King CMO Fernando Machado. Details on how to submit your paper into this free-to-enter case study competition can be found on the WARC Awards site