Why Canesten and Analog Folk created an educational platform to truthfully portray vaginas
Analog Folk and Canesten won the Best Educational Cause Campaign category at The Drum Awards for Social Purpose and the Healthcare and Pharma accolade at the Content Awards. Here is how they created an educational platform to truthfully portray vaginas.
The Truth, Undressed by Canesten
The UK is seen as a progressive nation for sexual health education, however, only 6% of UK women (aged 16-25) learned about intimate health conditions through education. This is vastly inadequate and can lead to feelings of shame and distress. To reduce embarrassment and stigma, Analog Folk developed a revolutionary education-at-scale, digital-first initiative; The Truth, Undressed.
Images of vulvas are either over-sexualized via media and popular culture, including pornography, or they’re inaccurate metaphors and illustrations. These images don’t represent reality and cannot tackle the shame young people feel about their bodies.
Canesten set to provide the bare-naked facts about vulvas. It wanted to reach young people aged 11-24, to give them access to uncensored, unsexualised, and accurate information about intimate health.
The Truth, Undressed microsite provided real education including content covering topics from cultural pressures and labiaplasty, health conditions like BV, thrush and vaginismus, pubic hair and the choices that come with it, to what a vagina should smell and taste like.
Canesten used its 40+ years of intimate health knowledge and collaborated with Dr Anne Henderson, Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist and real photographs of diverse representations of vulvas and discharge were used.
The brand also worked with people from the LGBTQIA+ community and Unstereotype Alliance, a thought and action platform that seeks to eradicate harmful stereotypes in advertising content, to ensure no one felt excluded by the language, images, or actions.
To enable this program to exist in the public realm as well as the microsite, short-form video ads for TikTok and Instagram were created to drive traffic to the site. The films used an empowering tone of voice to rally young people, encouraging them not to settle for metaphoric or euphemistic images of fruit or plants to learn about their bodies.
A core part of the activity was to make The Truth, Undressed part of the national school syllabus in the UK. With the support of two academics, Dr Ester McGeeney and Dr Elly Hanson, specialists in youth-centered research on relationships and sexualities, the educational program with the PSHE Association was developed. Four age-appropriate lesson plans were developed and a supporting guidance document was to provide teachers with additional support ahead of teaching the lessons, covering safeguarding, inclusivity and parental consent.
In its first month, more than 42,000 people visited the website and stayed on average for more than two-and-a-half minutes, 40% more dwell time than on Canesten’s branded website, showing that we’re offering relevant and engaging content. To-date, it reached approximately 140,280 students and the teaching materials have been downloaded over 1,000 times, demonstrating high engagement already.
Across social 3.4M people were reached. The work secured coverage across national, consumer and marketing trade titles across Europe, US, Asia and Australia. With 60 pieces of targeted coverage so far, it has reached a media coverage audience of 91 million.
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