Thinx are running a new campaign in the New York City subway stations, it can be seen at Grand Central and Williamsburg’s Bedford Avenue stop, and in one out of every ten subway cars. The copy on the ads is very colloquial, to the point of looking like it came straight from a lazily spelled text. This is all part of the plan, says Miki Agrawal the CEO and co-founder of Thinx, who wants the ads to feel like a conversation between friends, and the ads to make you laugh or smile. The product is interesting as well, period panties that promise no leakage. At first I misunderstood and thought they meant they were selling those ugly panties you keep around just for those days, which would be a bold branding move. But these are meant to be worn in lieu of pads or tampons.
Thinx advertising in the new York subway created a stir last year when Miki Agrawal said it had run into a snag with Outfront Media, saying they had a problem with the word "period" in the ads, and also with some of the suggestive imagery. (seen above)
An MTA spokesperson put the matter to rest stating “Of course they will be approved”. That campaign had the line "Underwear for women with periods" and some very quirky suggestive imagery, such as grapefruits and eggs, with a distinct colour palette. I quite liked the art direction of these ads, which carried the campaign and never saw any reason for controversy. The controversy was widely discussed on social media however, so the brand went viral and it helped launch the business.
This campaign matches their interesting model images with chatty lines, where the tone changes like my that-time-of-the-month moods. That's not a compliment, there's no red thread in the campaign it seemingly jumps from idea to idea. Individually the lines may or may not appeal to the target, but they're all selling different things about the product. They're selling the hygiene point in one ad, and in the other the fact that it's a revolutionary new product. They're teaching you how to wash it in another, then pointing out that it prevents odour. It's always difficult to nail down that single selling point, but there's a reason you need to.
With statements like “Period-proof underwear that won't leak through your Tinder date (or Bumble or Grindr or Farmers Only). #NotAnAd #Ad" they're simultaneously trying to sell to you, while pretending that they're not doing it. It's a strategy older than OK Cola. Whether it's pandering or simply a voice by millennials for millennials depends on who you ask. If you visit Thinx website you'll find they expand the line Panties for people with periods by showing a photo essay of a trans man wearing their thinx boyshort, a model they launched during "trans awareness week" (There's a day/month/week for everything soon).
One ad in the new campaign is creating quite a stir online as it's been spotted on Reddit & twitter a lot. The line reads: "Period proof underwear that protects you from leaks and sometimes the patriarchy but not manspreading. We tried tho." That "tho" is really bugging some people.