Health retailer Holland & Barrett has been crowned the winner of a Transport for London (TfL) competition which called on brands to better reflect the diversity of women in the city, unveiling a campaign tackling the "last taboo" – menopause.
Last year, TfL launched 'The Women We See' contest, giving advertisers the chance to pitch for £500,000 worth of free digital and out-of-home (OOH) ad space across the capital's transport network.
Holland & Barrett's 'Me.No.Pause' campaign will profile a diverse range of women going through the menopause. It fought off 90 other submissions to appear on the tube, buses and bus stops across London, supported by TfL media partners Exterion Media and JCDecaux.
Creative agency Pablo is behind the push which will kick off on Monday (28 January). The brand is investing in PR, online and in-store promotions to run alongside the TfL billboards, which will go live early February.
The ads will focus on the challenges women face during the menopause, including the loss of femininity, identity and self. It showcases women asserting their identity and purpose despite these obstacles, pointing them to Holland & Barrett as a source of natural remedies for some of the physical and emotional symptoms they are experiencing.
In line with this, the campaign will explore a variety of menopause experiences, including perimenopause, menopause, as well as handling the menopause prematurely in life, alongside cancer and while managing a disability.
The drive will be fronted Loose Women presenter Andrea McLean, who experienced early menopause after experiencing endometriosis and an emergency hysterectomy.
Staff in Holland & Barrett stores nationwide have also been trained to advise on the physical and emotional impact of the menopause.
'The last taboo'
"Raising awareness of menopause is something we feel very passionate about at Holland & Barrett. It feels like the ‘last taboo’ topic that people still don’t talk about openly, but it is such a natural part of life and something all women will experience," said Holland & Barrett’s chief marketing officer Caroline Hipperson.
"By partnering with City Hall and TfL we will now be able to convey this message on over 31m journeys. We hope this campaign will give all these amazing women the confidence to talk about what they are going through and seek advice or tips on how to alleviate any symptoms if needed."
She added: "We are taking this seriously in store too; we have invested in training for all our store colleagues on the topic so we hope women experiencing the menopause come in and speak to us."
The competition from City Hall was launched after the London mayor's office found that just 26% of women felt ads in the city were relevant to them. Those who felt the least represented were women over the age of 55, with 55% of this group saying they felt invisible to advertisers.
Mothercare has been awarded runner-up in the competition, with a campaign celebrating mothers, and will receive a prize of £50,000 worth of digital ad space.
The project was part of a wider year-long women's equality campaign from Sadiq Khan, 'Behind Every Great City'.
Dayoung Yun, creative director at Pablo, said: “We recognise the shortcomings of our industry in truly representing the diverse fabric of society, so we jumped at the opportunity to be involved with this worthy initiative."
On the subject of menopause (something Maltesers has also touched on in its advertising) she said the agency was "dismayed" to find that the reality of this experience had been "diminished or ignored" in public dialogue and "shocked" at the power of insight that women feel their very identities are under threat during menopause.
"However, when we looked closely at the word ‘menopause’, we saw that by simply adding two full stops ‘Me.No.Pause,’ it instantly reframed its meaning to become an empowering declaration from women," she continued.
"We hope this campaign will spark and inspire a more open conversation about this important subject."
Last year, under Pablo, Holland & Barrett put transparency at the heart of its branding to cut through the noise in a world where 'wellness' is facing a backlash.