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Facebook backtracks on Modibodi ad ban after claiming period blood violated rules


By Imogen Watson, Senior reporter

October 2, 2020 | 5 min read

You may not be anywhere near the office water cooler right now, but we still want to spotlight the most talked about creative from the brands that should be on your radar. Today, we’re talking about Facebook decision to reverse its ad ban on Modibodi's 'New Way To Period' campaign.

Facebook backtracks on Modibodi ad ban after claiming menstrual blood violated guidelines

Facebook backtracks on Modibodi ad ban after claiming menstrual blood violated guidelines

It feels like Facebook is always in the news for arguments over what is, and what isn’t, acceptable on its platform. This week it found itself in the middle of a Twitter storm over its decision to ban a Modibodi period underwear ad because the period blood shown violated its guidelines – a move it has since retracted.

It wasn’t that long ago that period blood was taboo in advertising. References to it were only permissible as a watery, blue, Windex-type liquid used solely to illustrate the absorption of period pads. Which is why Bodyform’s ’Blood Normal’ was so groundbreaking in 2017.

Fast forward three years and period product brands all over the world have been smashing taboos, celebrating period blood in all its glory (and gory). Which is exactly why Modibodi was shocked to find Facebook had banned its empowering ’New Way To Period’ ad, which featured period blood stains on bedsheets and on used disposable products. It even artfully captured the highly relatable image of period blood mixing with shower water as it gurgles down the drain.

According to Australian brand Modibodi, which creates period-proof underwear, Facebook claimed the spot violated its guidelines, which block ”shocking, sensational, disrespectful or excessively violent content.”

Modibodi’s founder and chief exec Kirsty Chong said in a statement that: “It’s the twenty-first century and it’s disappointing Facebook doesn’t want to normalise the conversation around menstruation. Our aim for this film was to open people’s minds by taking the stigma out of what is a perfectly natural bodily function for women. It was not made to be deliberately sensational or provocative, but to show the very real and natural side of periods.“

After news broke of Facebook’s ban, a slew of people took to Twitter to vent their frustration. “Red (pun intended) hot with rage,“ wrote Cindy Gallop, founder of Make Love Not Porn, “Facebook allows hate to spread, while female health and wellness is stigmatized and causes women to suffer more from socially-conditioned shame.“

Facebook has since backtracked on its decision to censor the ads, following a review. Its Australia and New Zealand director of brand, Naomi Shepherd, told Mumbrella: “We know these issues are complicated, and our Sydney-based team has been working closely with Modibodi across the development of this campaign. After further review and consultation with our teams, we are pleased that Modibodi’s ads will now be shared across our platforms in their entirety.”

Sadly the censorship isn’t an isolated incident. Earlier this year, the Oscars rejected a postnatal advert for Frida Mom as it deemed the narrative of a woman changing her mesh underwear ’too graphic’ for its TV viewers.

And last year, the Australian Advertising Standards Board was forced to dismiss hundreds of complaints after a TV commercial for sanitary products was deemed ’offensive’ for showing a woman in stained underwear.

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