Libresse have long been on the forefront of creating daring and different feminine protection ads. From the go-getting gal who arranges for the cute boy to run out of gas so that she can drive him home, to breaking the period blood taboo in tv commercials today.

In the "Blood normal" campaign by Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO show the ups and downs of a period, hints at the blood in visual puns like the woman in a red bathing suit relaxing on a white pad-shaped mattress, and defuses the taboo by having women matter-of-factly ask for a pad at a dinner party and a 12-year old comedian crack pad-jokes. Oh, and there's sex too. Sex on the rag, presumably. A bit too much of it if you ask me, I'd rather hear more of Saffron Herndon's jokes and see less tongue-snogging.

The long edit here, which has a great music track and plenty of time to show splattering blood, blood running down a woman's legs in the shower, etc, has all the time in the world to set the story. Edited down to twenty-second shorts, which this has been, the campaign loses Saffron Herndon completely and spends way too long showing the Halloween-bloody-pad outfit, the blood shower scene, and the blood splatter. We get it, we bleed, and there's no blue liquid in our pantyliners. Instead, we have blood, in a range of different colours from nearly black to brown. The perfect unclotted primary red as depicted here isn't as common as one would think, and I ponder if Libresse just introduced yet another thing women will now worry about. "Why isn't my blood the red we see in the ads? What's wrong with me?" It's not like we hang around showing each other the results in our pads and ask "is this colour normal?" My normal is not your normal.

In addition to the long and short commercials, the campaign will include a graphic story by illustrator Victo Ngai, specially-designed period underwear by French lingerie company Dessu, period jokes by 12-year-old stand-up comedian Saffron Herndon, and a range of pad-shaped lilos - all seen here in the long edit.

A recent survey of 10,000 people conducted by Libresse found that more than one-third of respondents thought of periods as taboo. Nine out of ten women attempt to hide their periods, and 56% of girls expressed a preference for being bullied at school rather than talking to their parents about periods. Wow, that's sad. From this, the strategy of breaking the taboo was born, and at the end when we reach the reveal of actual menstruation blood on a pad the ad pixellates it because it's "unacceptable" to show. It is normal, yes, just like spit, snot, shit, piss and sperm is normal. You can see some of that in XXX-films, but not on commercial TV between soap operas and the news. In diaper ads a blue liquid is also shown, instead of the perfectly normal weirdly green slushy-poo babies can produce but I doubt breaking that taboo will receive any applause.

The one "taboo" this ad does shatter is the social stigma of men buying pads, or women asking for one in mixed company. I'd still rather not announce to an entire dinner table that Aunt Flo is visiting, just as I wouldn't announce that I need to poop when I go to the restroom. I am not five. But modern advertising thinks being a "lady" includes picking your teeth at the table while mirroring yourself in the knife, and oversharing like a kid. Some things are just rude, not taboo, but apparently, nobody taught this generation the difference. As for men buying pads, I've never in my life had an issue with asking for help if I need it in this area, but there are those who do. Showing the mundane run to the corner store for the girlfriend's pads is the biggest taboo breaker in this commercial.

Client: Libresse
Ad agency: Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO
Production Company: Flare Studio
Copywriter: Nicholas Hulley
Art director: Nadja Lossgott
Directed by Daniel Wolfe through Somesuch.
Media agency: Zenith

about the author

Dabitch Creative Director, CEO, hell-raising sweetheart and editor of Adland. Globetrotting Swede who has lived and worked in New York, London, San Francisco, Amsterdam, Copenhagen and Stockholm.

Comments (4)

  • Teodora Sevastru's picture
    Teodora Sevastru (not verified)

    Brilliant ad. Periods are normal!

    Nov 03, 2017
  • kidsleepy's picture
    kidsleepy

    Diarrhea, hemorrhoids, vomit and snot are also normal. I don't need to see it in any ad, though.
    Out of all the things you could choose to champion, when it comes to women, period blood should be last on the list. Also why is this ad so sexual? Are they encouraging sex while on your period?
    And also did the ad need to be as long as the average period?
    This ad may be all about blood, but in reality it's a total shit show.

    Nov 04, 2017
  • Dabitch's picture
    Dabitch

    It's possible that this a generational thing, but the "I'll be working from home today because I have a very heavy period" email really grated me. At one point in time, the idea that women would use that kind of excuse to stay at home literally kept us out of certain jobs. I dislike that this ad encourages that.

    And before anyone gets mad at me for asking y'all to put your big girl pants on; I have endometriosis, I have had surgery three times and been in ambulances too. I know what a truly heavy period is.

    Nov 04, 2017

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