What’s On

#sowhoknew: Only women bleed blue? #bloodnormal

The first ever sanitary pad campaign to feature red blood rather than the usual blue gel has just been released by Bodyform in the UK. The ad is creating real controversy with some saying it’s about bloody time whilst others are seeing red at the idea.

If you haven’t seen it, the 20 second commercial (above) features synthetic red menstrual blood twice in the ad. It’s seen being poured from a test tube onto a Bodyform sanitary towel and also running down a woman’s leg whilst she is in the shower.

On the positive side, the realistic depiction of period blood has been applauded by many women. Bodyform themselves launched the campaign with an explanatory tweet which said:“Contrary to popular belief, women don’t bleed blue liquid, they bleed blood. Periods are normal. Showing them should be too. #bloodnormal”

The response on Twitter was largely positive with various comments, predominantly from women. For example:

“YESSSS a marketing campaign that I think may finally change stereotypes of happy, white trouser wearing, yoghurt eating women on their periods. Thank you”

However, there were also a fair proportion of dissenters, for example @abbeylouu who stated:

“I’m sorry but @bodyform yes we get that blood is normal, but we don’t wanna see it on our TV’s when we’re eating our dinner! Disgusting”

And some went even further. People questioned where we should draw the line when it comes to bringing down the barriers of various taboos. For example, quite a few commenters questioned whether advertising for toilet paper was now going to see people wiping their backsides and showing the results to the camera to prove that their brand wipes off more excrement than their competitors. Sounds like sh*t to me. I think I’d still prefer the Andrex puppy to be honest.

In defense of the ground-breaking commercial, Bodyform Marketing Controller Traci Baxter told Cosmopolitan:

“We know that the ‘period taboo’ is damaging… we want to change this by challenging the taboo and ultimately removing the stigma, making it even easier for anyone to talk about periods, now and in the future”

This sentiment was echoed by Essity, the owners of the brand, who declared that they have responded to research which suggests that three-fourth’s of consumers wanted to see more ‘honesty’ portrayed in adverts.

I’ve got to be honest, I think it’s a refreshing change to see an ad for a sanitary towel that isn’t full of cliched imagery of (apparently menstruating) women vigorously rollerskating down a beach promenade in pastel hued Daisy Duke shorts. I also think that the client and ad agency deserve a modicum of credit for developing a campaign with genuine talk-ability which is creating a huge amount of free PR.

All that said, in the spirit of balance, I do wonder if some of the more squeamish amongst us might find it all a little overwhelming – not least for those who suffer from haemophobia. I also get the point about where does all this ‘honesty in advertising’ end up? As mentioned previously, turds on toilet paper? Or maybe snot smeared tissues? Pus soaked plasters? Urine infused incontinence pants? Semen filled condoms? I mean, just how ‘honest’ do we want advertisers to be?

So what do you think? Should Bodyform be applauded for their honest portrayal of women’s periods or have they gone too far with a subject that is simply too sensitive? I’m pretty sanguine about it but does it make your blood boil? As ever, I’m keen to hear your thoughts…

Steve Blakeman

Steve Blakeman is the Global Media Lead - Nestlé at Mindshare. Previously, he was the Managing Director - Global Accounts, OMD Europe. Previously, he was the CEO, Asia Pacific – OMD. Prior to that, he was Global Chief Integration Strategy Officer (Asia Pacific) for IPG Mediabrands (Initiative & Universal McCann). He has also had stints as worked as Managing Partner at Omnicom Media Group owned media agency, PHD where he successfully launched their second office in the UK. He began his career at JWT and has over two decades of experience in advertising, media and marketing communications.