Even in 2016, opening a dialogue that promotes, educates, reworks and sells a product for female menstruation is a bit tricky. Bodyform did a lot to fight the old stereotypes of blue liquids and active, smiling women in this excellent advert four years ago. And this hilarious letter of complaint hit cult status after it called out Always for using the strapline Have a Happy Period. Always on its sanitary products –“Are you f kidding me?” it reads, “does any part of your tiny middle-manager brain really think happiness - actual smiling, laughing happiness, is possible during a menstrual period?”–prompting the brand to rethink its marketing strategy.
But despite these teetering steps in the right direction, advertising, branding and marketing approaches to female sanitation products still remains relatively archaic. Something Thinx learned the hard way when its recent proposed NYC subway adverts were thought to be "inappropriate" by the powers that be because they contained the word period and "too much skin". (Adverts for breast enhancement surgery and normal underwear passed the same test though). It may happen to half the world’s population 12 times a year, but period is still a very dirty word.
Thinx was founded by SHE-EO Miki Agrawal, her twin sister Radha and their friend, Antonia Dunbar in 2014 and they’ve been hard at work breaking menstruation taboos every since.
They’re promoting social change within female menstruation in two ways: a breakthrough ‘period-proof’ product and by generating a new wave of dialogue around access to feminine hygiene and gender issues worldwide.
Yes, you can wear them all day, yes they’re totally reusable, and yes it’s super liberating. Boom
The key to their success is three-fold. Their brand language is engaging and tells it straight: “Yes, you can wear them all day, yes they’re totally reusable, and yes it’s superliberating. Boom.”
Their advertising campaigns are subtly mischievous and use clever imagery such as peeled half grapefruits to denote women’s vaginas and broken eggs which allude to a woman’s unfertilised monthly ovulation. Their social media accounts continue on this playful and engaging note.
And they’ve positioned themselves very cleverly with the Instagram and blog generations with events such as last month’s ‘Intersection’ fashion show. Thinx invited the likes of Teen Vogue, Nylon and Jezebel with concrete invitations recipients were invited to smash (in the same way the company wants you to break the menstruation taboo). During the show, poets, comedians, artists and more wore Thinx pants as they discussed their hopes for social radicalisation.
Thinx stands for everything that the Always messaging didn’t. It puts half of the population right at the center of its organisation and in doing so it has built its business around them. By interacting with customers, Thinx has made them feel part of a movement that’s breaking taboos. For every purchase of their pants, it sends funds to AFRIpads, a Ugandan-based organisation which provides cloth pads to women and school girls in rural areas, in doing so Thinx makes its customers feel like they are part of their revolution for change.
This forward thinking brand will win women over time and time again. Always.