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How ActionAid UK and Facebook plan to tackle period poverty

Raising awareness about global period poverty is hard. ActionAid UK’s clever use of animation to tell a powerful story made a lasting impact

Period poverty affects women and girls all over the world. Access to sanitary products, safe, private spaces in which to use them, and the right to manage menstruation without shame or stigma, is essential for anyone who menstruates.

But for many, this is not a reality. This is not just a potential health risk – it can also mean women and girls’ education and wellbeing are affected. That’s why ActionAid UK has been working with women and girls, community leaders, men and boys, schools and governments to help end period poverty around the world.

Part of this work includes the distribution of menstrual hygiene kits to women and girls living in Cox’s Bazaar, Bangladesh; the world’s largest refugee settlement. Unfortunately, the Covid-19 breakout meant that nobody from the charity could go to Bangladesh to capture the women’s personal stories.

This formulaic creative strategy had been used successfully for several years to drive regular monthly gift donations for ActionAid UK but without this year’s visit, it wasn’t sure how to proceed other than to re-run old stories from the past.

A new way to tell the story
With a fresh approach needed, ActionAid UK partnered with Facebook Creative Shop, who saw an opportunity to change the whole tone of the campaign, both from a visual and storytelling viewpoint. Previous content for period poverty had always used filmed footage focusing on the solo journey of a woman in need, so the decision was made to open the story into a global sisterhood using animation.

In order to resonate with the target audience (women aged 25-55 in the UK), the new animated creative concept had to be story-first and as authentic and inclusive as possible. Animation house Rumpus and animation duo Hend & Lamiaa were asked to bring the storyboards to life in the most impactful way possible.

The creative focused on the power of helping your fellow woman. It doesn’t matter if it’s your sister, a friend, or a complete stranger in the loo. You should always help out in an emergency, if you can. But what about a woman living in a refugee camp – would you help her out too?

As ActionAid UK’s objective was to drive monthly donations (so one-off donation tools were redundant) three different end card creatives were designed to test and see what drove the most donations/highest donation amount per subscription – one £3 CTA, one £7 CTA and one emotive. Results-wise, the £3 CTA was the most effective, although interestingly, the average donation was higher than £3.

Did it work?
The campaign resonated powerfully with the target audience. It played beautifully to the behavioural truth that women everywhere observe an unwritten rule that if another female asks for a tampon or pad, you share what you have.

The campaign was due to run for a month during and after Menstrual Hygiene Day (28 May) but was so successful that it ran for a further five months, both on Facebook and Instagram platforms. ActionAid UK also signed on more regular givers in the first week than it usually would in the entire month of December. The charity has also rolled the creative out to out of home activations in washrooms around the UK and extended the campaign throughout October. In addition, ActionAid Ireland has decided to use the animated campaign creative too.

Winning stats
• 4.4 point lift in message association (average 1.5)
• 73% reduction in CPA
• 5.5 lift in ad recall

Jana Quinlan, senior acquisition campaign manager, ActionAid UK
“Working alongside Facebook on this campaign has given us an exciting new proposition and distinct creative that can be utilised across a range of channels. In addition to the fantastic results we’ve seen in regular giving acquisition as a result of the campaign, the shift in metrics such as ad recall, conversion intent and message association has well and truly exceeded our expectations.”

Stef Bowskill, creative director and animator, Rumpus Animation
“Facebook Creative Shop’s treatment for the campaign felt really energetic and purposeful, so we were super excited to bring our playful 2D Rumpus style to the concept. We translated the female characters into bold and colourful shapes. Taking the designs into frame-by- frame hand-drawn animation was loads of fun! We really enjoyed sharing early pencil work with both Facebook and ActionAid UK in collaborative and productive live review sessions, crafting the visuals and timings together. We love how the dynamic choreography in the final animation tells the story to land the message.”

Tara McLaughlin, creative strategist, Creative Shop, Facebook
“Period poverty is such an important issue and it was a privilege to work with ActionAid UK to drive awareness and donations towards the cause. Craft played a huge role in the success of this campaign, and establishing the right tone and visual language to bring our concept to life was essential. A unique look and feel meant that ActionAid UK could capture attention and encourage action with a rallying call for solidarity that resonated.”

Ciara Harrison, creative strategist, Creative Shop, Facebook
“At Facebook we understand the power of bringing the world closer together and how impactful that can be for communities and brands. This mission statement is reflected in the campaign we produced with ActionAid UK where we reframed charity (‘us’ and a ‘them’) as solidarity (women united). The results speak for themselves – this message positioning where the viewer identified with the receiver of their donation drove better message association and more donations for ActionAid UK. I would love to see more NGOs explore the creative territory of solidarity.” 

Suzanne Bidlake, commercial editor, Campaign Content Labs
“Sometimes a constraint brings about the brightest ideas: this charming campaign is a great example. The insight that we naturally share a tampon or pad if another woman asks, and embedding that message in an upbeat animation, on a “friends” platform like Facebook, is an inspired approach. It’s a fresh, modern take that, like all the best ideas, now seems so obvious that we wonder why it was never done before. No surprise, then, that it worked so effectively, tapping in – as Facebook also does – to that most warming of feelings: solidarity in community.” 

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