How DTC brand Thinx tackled taboos and censorship with first TV campaign

Direct-to-consumer brand Thinx challenged people to think differently about menstruation.

Direct-to-consumer feminine hygiene brand Thinx wanted to smash the stigma of menstruation with its first TV campaign. It did so by asking a simple question: If we all had periods, would we be more comfortable talking about them?

The ‘MENstruation’ campaign featured cisgender men – those whose gender identity matches the sex they were assigned at birth – telling their fathers they were menstruating for the first time.

Thinx had three core goals for the campaign: to introduce the brand to new customers, position it as the go-to option for pads and tampons, and to start a national dialogue about the stigma around menstruation.

Prior to the TV campaign, Thinx had spent most of its marketing budget on paid social media, but had reached the point where it needed to broaden its appeal.

BBDO was briefed to create and produce the campaign, with Unbendable Media and The GOAT Agency brought in for PR and influencer work.

Some media owners were reluctant to show the ads as they featured a tampon string, and this was used to the brand’s advantage in outreach activity based on censorship, where Thinx challenged TV networks which refused to show the ad. Influencers with a combined following of more than 40 million people went public with their support for the ad.

The campaign succeeded in its objective to drive discussion. It earned more than 120 unique press hits, with coverage in titles such as Fast Company, Cosmopolitan, AdWeek, The New York Times and Time Magazine. Influencer content created an additional 28 million impressions.

All this culminated in Thinx winning the 2020 Marketing Week Masters award for video.

The judges felt the strategy was “super clear” and described the approach to potential media censorship as “creative”, adding “the actual communication is tasteful, smart, authentic and charming”.