The marketing world is slowly helping to make women’s periods more acceptable. See recent campaigns from Hooha, Stayfree India and Libresse to find positive examples of the trend towards destigmatizing periods.
Ruby Love, a femtech period apparel company, is taking a more lighthearted approach to a sometimes awkward problem for girls and women – the shame and anxiety of getting their periods in public situations.
Ruby Love worked with Jamestown Films by Harmon Brothers – of Poo-pourri and Squatty Potty fame – to make a longform digital ad introducing ‘Period Pal’, a personification of an actual period that explains what it’s like to be menstrual flow, and how products from Ruby Love can save someone from embarrassment.
The video begins with a mother reminiscing with her teen daughter about her early period memories, stating that they can be “rough”. Then ‘Period Pal’ pops in – a woman wearing all red, who talks about how rough it can really be. She brings back experiences for mom like an embarrassing leak at school caused by a sneeze, plus camps and slumber parties. Each time, ‘Period Pal’ emerges in a flash of red and a loud announcement. As the woman talks to her daughter about her first period, ‘Period Pal’ recommends that her daughter try Ruby Love, a range of personal care products that includes underwear, activewear, swimwear and loungewear all featuring the brand’s gusset which offers maximum absorption and protection against leaks and stains.
“So many women refer to their period as their ‘red friend,’ and we wanted to show that in a literal way,” Ruby Love founder and chief executive officer, Crystal Etienne, tells The Drum. “By personifying our period, each one individual to the woman who had it, makes the overall message relatable and we hope that women will look at their periods in a new light. It's not their fault that our pants get stained or we have embarrassing moments – that's the fault of inadequate period protection products.”
Period advertising has usually been dealt with by bland characters and mysterious blue liquids, and Etienne wanted to make sure that period protection was talked about in a less clinical, more human way, mixing style, comfort and functionality with humor.
“Ruby Love addresses the woman – the individual – and shows that she can like and do what she normally does every day, in spite of her period,” says Etienne.
The Ruby Love team decided to go with the Harmon Brothers because of the company’s background with touchy subjects.
“Harmon has historically done a great job of bringing normally embarrassing topics and products, like Poo-pourri and Squatty Potty, to light using humor. When they approached me two years ago, I knew they would be a great fit to deliver a topic like period protection to a new audience in an informative, humorous and non-offensive way. It was important to both sides to further the conversation of women's health and period protection in a way customers could relate to and not be embarrassed about,” she says.
Etienne added that they chose a realistic, informative and humorous version of the script to be sure that it was not offensive. “I think we hit the nail on the head, addressing life stages and unexpected period experiences, that I'm sure every woman, including myself, can relate to. Cautious in our delivery, 'Period Pals' simply addresses reality in a humorous way.”
Etienne says that they encourage other individuals, groups and organizations to positively address women's issues that were once deemed secondary or too embarrassing to discuss openly.
“There is a level of unsaid responsibility we assume within the femtech space. Ruby Love supports women's empowerment, with emphasized positive reinforcement to young ladies, through our messaging and involvement with organizations on both domestic and international fronts,” she says.
The campaign will be initially launched online, including on Facebook and YouTube, then Ruby Love hopes to take it to TV. She says the company’s goal going forward is to continue encouraging open and honest discussions about periods and women's health, while also educating women about a safe and convenient alternative way to manage their period without inserting foreign objects into their bodies.
“Puberty, periods and ongoing changes to one's body are completely normal. We should be encouraging open conversations about these changes and experiences, not shaming people into keeping their questions and experiences to themselves. Own your body, own your menstrual cycle, and no time of the month should ever stop you from doing, being and going. There are products and people out there to support you,” concludes Etienne.