The SCA sanitary wear brand’s new "Red.Fit" campaign intends to educate consumers about the menstrual cycle and its effect on women during exercise.
Created by Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO, the campaign is being backed by sports organisations such as the England and Wales Cricket Board and The Institute of Sport Exericse and Health.
It follows a two-year partnership between the brand at St Mary’s University, Twickenham, and University College London, in which Bodyform invested in a PhD programme exploring the effect of the menstrual cycle on women’s heath and exercise.
The 70-second ad is replete with women getting into scrapes during sport, such as runners falling over and boxers being hit in the face, while a ballet dancer’s bleeding toes make for equally uncomfortable viewing.
The ads ends with the tagline, "no blood should hold us back", before displaying the Bodyform logo next to the brand’s slogan "live fearless".
Nicola Coronado, the marketing director at Bodyform, said: "Menstruation really is 'the last taboo' for women in sport, simply because we lack knowledge and understanding of this subject area.
"Using our partnership with St. Mary’s University, Twickenham and UCL will help us to challenge these category stereotypes and transform the consumer mindset when it comes to the perceived barriers around periods and exercise."
The film was written by Caio Giannella and art directed by Diego de Oliveira at AMV BDDO, and was directed by Jones & Tino through Stink.
The campaign will launch globally, including in other markets for the brands Libresse, Nana, Nuvenia and Nosotras. Zenith is handling the media planning and buying.
From security to empowerment
The hard-hitting nature of the film is a departure from previous campaigns by Bodyform, which has tradtionally run ads ranging from the functional to the humorous.
The brand's "Woah" campaign, beginning in the 80s, was characterised by demonstrating the comfort and secure qualities of the product, while the ads would show women jumping out of a plane or hanging out with their friends.
The message was clear: show how women can do "whatever they want" while using the product and finish with a catchy jingle – few who watched the ads will be able to forget the "Bodyformed for you" jingle performed by Stevie Vann.
In 2013, SCA consolidated its global ad account into Publicis Worldwide and Omnicom's BBDO network, with the latter tasked with handling feminine care brands including Bodyform.
A year previously, Bodyform struck PR gold with a spoof video posted on its Facebook page, which responded to a comment on social media that women seemed to have a "wonderful time of the month" if the brand's advertising was to be believed.
Created by Rubber Rubber and planned by Carat, it issued an irreverant response by fictitious chief executive Caroline Williams and poked fun at gender stereotypes.
"Quiet brand" finds voice with "live fearless"
The launch of Bodyform's "live fearless" campaign two years ago began with a £4.5m marketing push which attacked old-fashioned attitudes that women should avoid normal activities when they were on their period.
This came at a time when Coronado herself admitted that Bodyform had been a "quiet brand" and been dissatisfied despite seeing steady sales growth and an increase of market share to 13%.
There then came a a wider push by SCA to promote its FMCG brands, such as Tena and Cushelle, through an increase in marketing investment, new packaging, and sponsorship, such as SCA Hygeine entering an all-female team in the Volvo Ocean Race.
Earlier this year, the brand called for period-themed emojis to be added to the official Unicode index, following a survey's finding that 45% of women struggled to talk about periods with their friends and family.