This is the story of what happened when Bodyform/Libresse (ESSITY), a challenger brand in period care, decided to break toxic period taboos when everyone had been too scared or oblivious to even touch on them.
Or, as some haters said, it’s “what happens when whores and pimps become marketers”.
Bloodnormal was created to be the change we needed to see, in a world where there was still a glaring absence of positive representations of periods in media and mainstream culture, which was fuelling the toxic shame.
Bloodnormal was a ban-defying, taboo-breaking and boundary pushing campaign.
For the first time in the history of FemCare, the brand swapped the infamous blue liquid for red, showed period blood trickling down a woman’s leg, a girl publically asking for a pad, a man buying pads, the emotional journey of periods, the pain, the intimacy, and the beauty. Breaking not just one taboo, but dozens of them.
Not to shock, but to normalise.
Because when 56% of girls would rather get bullied at school than talk to their parents about their periods, 9 out of 10 women hide their periods and over half of women have been period shamed, you realise that periods might be something that happens to half of the population, but period shame is a profound societal issue.
The campaign had a powerful film at its heart, like a love letter to women, shedding light into all the dark corners of period shame, and was a springboard into real life activations designed to change the culture for the better around periods.
Bloodnormal helped our challenger brand achieve all its objectives and way beyond:
• Leaving women feeling finally understood, generating maximum fame for the brand as a meaningful, taboo-breaking brand – gaining a disproportionately high share of voice despite our lower spend and overtaking the UK #1 Always (P&G) in social share of voice.
• Awakening a passionate engagement among women and men around the world, creating much-needed debates everywhere and even on TV – the very place where the campaign was banned.
• Converting women’s interest and engagement into boosted brand interest and purchase, closing the gap in equity with the mighty market leaders and helping to grow share in an incredibly tough context where P&G completely outspent us.
• Maximising the internal faith in the brand purpose at Essity, and achieving the best uptake of global assets by local markets in the history of the brand, with over 10 markets rolling it out.
• Creating a red line in the sand for periods and a snowball effect in society, by overturning the TV bans, revolutionising the category with competitors globally following suit with red liquid, and getting new pieces of culture to win awards in their own fields of culture, way beyond advertising.
Sometimes, it’s worth pissing some people off – if it’s making things right for so many more.
Please tell us about the challenger brand and how your campaign challenged / was different from your competitors
Bodyform/Libresse (Essity) is a FemCare brand with a global presence, but a challenger brand in many markets. In the UK, it’s #3 behind giant Always and Tampax (P&G).
Not only did they keep outspending us, they had been increasing their investment year on year and Always was advertising almost all year round. As a challenger in a commoditised category, we couldn’t afford to compete on price and promotions, or outspend competitors.
In the face of a society still deeply stigmatising periods and a category ironically afraid of periods and thereby participating in the shame, we wanted to play a bigger role than pouring more blue liquid.
Despite not being the category leader, we wanted to be the much-needed lighthouse brand, taking risks first and using our scale to help shift society’s attitudes.
So we dropped a big red bomb to the sanitised category. And it made quite a splash.