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AMV BBDO sparks bloody revolution with taboo-smashing campaign

Good (Glass)
Grand Prix: #Bloodnormal

Agency: AMV BBDO London
Client: Essity

No genuine revolution is without bloodshed. That's the lesson (literally and figuratively) that UK creative agency AMV BBDO London took on board with its convention-defying, taboo-breaking globe-spanning campaign for Swedish-owned femcare brand Essity (known as Bodyform in the UK and Libresse in other markets). A multimedia campaign that was always designed to provoke.

A bit of history: since launching its "Live Fearless" brand platform a few years ago, AMV BBDO felt the idea of confidence in femcare advertising had become tired and clichéd.

So in 2016, the agency persuaded its client to go smash one of the pillars of femcare marketing. It was incredibly brave. This is the thinking: Let’s get shot of the convention of using blue liquid to represent menstrual blood, and replace it with bright red, bloody-looking liquid. Not only that, let’s upend the societal taboos that surround one of the most natural, life-giving processes in the world.

#Bloodnormal kicked off with a film that defied a TV network ban because it showed menstrual blood in an ad. The commercial normalised periods by showing women bleeding, men buying sanitary pads and famous sportswomen bleeding.

To amplify the message, AMV BBDO used multiple touchpoints: social, influencers, artists, fashion designers (who created beautiful period designer underwear with stylised blood) and a 12-year-old female comedian, who wrote period jokes into her routine.

Of course, sticking a middle finger up at the prudes and oppressors was always going to anger them, with some very harsh comments across social. But all the trolling, moaning, regulatory obstruction and sanctimony was drowned out by praise for the campaign. It got people talking. Talking about a subject that had been unmentionable but that now got 4.5 billion PR impressions, media coverage in 32 countries (even those where the brand has no presence), and a 72% positive response from consumers. No mean feat.

But as well as its huge power for good, #Bloodnormal did wonders for the brand, stealing share from rivals and achieving the greatest cut-through in the brand's history.

The campaign won the Good (Glass) Grand Prix and a Communication Titanium Lion at Cannes, while it has swept the board at other marketing competitions, including picking up the Grand Prix at The Marketing Society Awards.

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