Libresse Tells a 'Wombstory' No Ad Has Told Before in Latest Taboo-Busting Ad
Essity, leading global hygiene and health company and owner of Bodyform, Libresse, Nana, Nuvenia, Saba and Nosotras, is committed to breaking the taboos that hold women back and creating a more understanding world. With the award-winning #BloodNormal campaign in 2017, Bodyform & Libresse tackled the stigma around periods, turning blue liquid red and showing period blood as it really is. With Viva La Vulva in 2018, singing vulvas called out the toxic myth of the perfect vulva.
In 2020, Bodyform & Libresse have created their boldest campaign to date, confronting a damaging etiquette that women live with every day, one which dictates what they should – and shouldn’t – feel about their bodies.
With #wombstories, Bodyform & Libresse push back against the single, simplistic narrative girls are taught from a young age: start your period in adolescence, repeat with 'a bit' of pain, want a baby, get pregnant, have more periods, stop periods, fade into the menopausal background.
The reality is, of course, much messier, but society doesn’t encourage women to talk openly about the highs and lows of their intimate health, especially in times of global uncertainty. A new research study of women and men by Bodyform & Libresse found that two thirds of women who experienced miscarriage, endometriosis, fertility issues and menopause said that being open with family and friends helped them cope.
And yet the same research found that half of women feel society wants them to keep silent about their experiences, while half of women felt staying silent about their issues damaged their mental health. This leads to a damaging silence around a range of difficult and sensitive issues that women face every day. The physical concern may be treated, but the emotional dimension is often left unheard and overlooked.
Tanja Grubner, FemCare global marketing and communications director at Essity, comments, “Although this campaign was conceived long before the pandemic changed everything, the issues women face didn’t just get put on hold or go away because of what was going on around us. In many instances, Covid-19 has increased the isolation women feel and the complexities they experience. The pandemic has seen women forced to give birth alone, have their fertility treatments and endometriosis surgeries delayed and postponed. Now more than ever is a time to ensure women speak up about their bodies and experiences.”
Bodyform & Libresse believe that this culture of silence reinforces taboos and impacts women’s confidence and wellbeing. Since taboos are weakened by open and honest conversation, Bodyform & Libresse are starting one. Loudly.
With #wombstories, Bodyform & Libresse want to encourage an open culture where everyone can express what they go through without fearing they won’t be properly heard or believed and without feeling shame that they are somehow less than what they were taught to be. The pleasure, the pain, the love, the hate. It’s never simple but it all needs to be heard. Because keeping it in or leaving it unheard comes at an emotional and physical cost both at an individual and collective level.
For #wombstories, Bodyform & Libresse worked with Golden Globe winning and Emmy-nominated director, writer and producer Nisha Ganatra, a predominantly female crew and an all-women team of animators and illustrators who have imagined the life of wombs.
From the burning down apartment of a peri- menopausal women, a monster ripping at an endometriosis sufferer’s uterus, a woman’s ‘flood gate’ moment during her period and an unexpected sneeze, to the woman who has chosen not to have children and the often-turbulent journey of trying to conceive. These few womb stories chronicle the sometimes beautiful, sometimes brutal human side of the biology and physiology they experienced every day. And while only a handful of experiences are shown, they represent the billions of complex experiences - from hysterectomies, postpartum trauma, artificial menopause, being a trans-man, the list is long.
Nisha Ganatra, Golden Globe winning and Emmy- nominated director, writer and producer, says, “When they’re at their best, our bodies are incredible machines that give us pleasure, and, if we want them to, help us propagate the human race. But they don’t always work. Hell, they don’t often work. Irregular periods. Endometriosis. Miscarriages and infertility. Our bodies can bring joy but also pain and devastation. It’s an emotional rollercoaster that lasts a lifetime.
I feel particularly drawn to this project. The work I feel most passionate about is the work that meaningfully resists outmoded social norms that no longer fit the cultural moment but persist, nonetheless. When my daughter is an adult, it shouldn’t just be acceptable for a woman to have ownership over her body and over her narrative. It shouldn’t just be acceptable for people to be who they want and to love who they want and to choose not to have children if they want. This should be the norm.”
Nicola Coronado UK and Ireland consumer marketing director at Bodyform, comments - “With #wombstories we are starting a movement. We want to boldly go where no other brand has been before; inside women’s bodies and emotions to truly represent their sensations and feelings that we believe are not only invisible but ignored, overlooked or denied. #wombstories reveals the narrative inside and out and we hope to put these topics on the table for all to talk about. We believe that only once we understand women’s bodies and everything they go through; can we care for them with our period and daily intimate care products.”
#wombstories will encourage open conversation so that nobody will have to hide the sometimes difficult, sometimes painful realities of their bodies.
Nadja Lossgott, executive creative director of AMV BBDO and Art Director on the campaign says, “Periods don’t just exist in isolation. They are connected to this entire ecosystem centered around our wombs, which almost acts as a second seat of power that rules us in such profound ways. We have this intensely complicated relationship with it. And yet this life-long bittersweet journey with our bodies is still considered something to shut up about. By visualising and anthropomorphising our wombs, we can begin to open up an emotional and human way to express these often complicated, contradictory feelings of love and hate, of pain and pleasure, of the mundane and the profound we constantly deal with.”
The research study* also found that
• 37% of women who experienced a miscarriage said they couldn’t grieve openly without fear of judgement
• 42% tried to keep fertility treatment as secret as possible
• 51% of women who don’t want children feel that people are constantly trying to change their mind.
• A third of women tried to keep their menopause/perimenopause a secret and suffered in silence
• 27% of people say they know something about endometriosis despite it impacting 1 in 10 women and often starting from a woman’s first period
• 41% feel they will be labelled for ‘over sharing’ if they talk about an everyday period occurrence such as leaking, coming on or a sudden rush
• 57% agree women are judged more harshly than men for discussing sexual pleasure, with 47% men agreeing
• 66% of those with experience of miscarriage, endometriosis, peri/ menopause or fertility issues say that discussing the experience with other people going through it is important in coping with these issues
Nisha Ganatra says of her film: “Imagining the uterus as its own little universe, sometimes working in our favour, sometimes working against us in stories of strength, vulnerability, exultation, devastation, mundanity and pleasure makes this film a truthteller in all its messy complexity.”
Bodyform & Libresse know that life is more complicated than a regular monthly cycle, and provides caring products for and beyond periods – because our vulvas, vaginas and uteruses don’t just exist during menstruation and they’re rarely simple.
To promote an open culture where everyone can express what they go through without the feelings of guilt or shame, Bodyform & Libresse commissioned a global listening project, collecting the true experiences of women sharing their emotional relationship with their bodies. Bodyform & Libresse are committing to listening to people and society to continue to break down the barriers that hold back. Everyone with a story can take part in the listening project here (link to website article page on #wombstories archive)
Essity, creator of Bodyform & Libresse, will continue with proud taboo breaking until the work is done and there are no more secrets.
Featured Companies: Framestore - New York
TITLE OF CAMPAIGN/NAME OF PROJECT: #wombstories
GLOBAL MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR FEMCARE: Tanja Grubner
GLOBAL MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, HHT: Martina Poulopati
GLOBAL BRAND COMMUNICATION MANAGER FEMCARE: Luciana De Azevedo Lara
MARKETING MANAGER - BODYFORM: Traci Baxter
MARKETING DIRECTOR REG. UKI & EMD FEMININE: Nicola Coronado
Creative Agency: AMV BBDO
CHIEF CREATIVE OFFICER: Alex Grieve
EXEC CREATIVE DIRECTOR: Nadja Lossott & Nicholas Hulley
CREATIVE DIRECTOR (THE TEAM WHO CD'D THE CAMPAIGN): Toby Allen & Jim Hilson
CREATIVE TEAM: Nadja Lossgott & Nicholas Hulley
MEDIA AGENCY: Zenith
TV PRODUCER: Edwina Dennison
ASSISTANT TV PRODUCER: Lucia Fioravanti
ART PRODUCTION: Fiona Bailey
TYPOGRAPHER/DESIGNER: Mario Kerkstra
ACCOUNT MANAGEMENT: BAD/AD ETC Sara Abaza, Sarah Hore-Lacy, Helen Limbrey, Sarah Douglas
PRODUCTION COMPANY: Chelsea Pictures
DIRECTOR: Nisha Ganatra
PRODUCTION COMPANY PRODUCER: Shanah Blevins
PRODUCTION COMPANY EXECUTIVE PRODUCER: Lisa Mehling, Pat McGoldrick
DOP/LIGHTING CAMERAMAN: Natasha Braier
PRODUCTION SERVICE COMPANY: PSN Spain
EDITOR: Elise Butt
SOUND STUDIO: 750mph
SOUND ENGINEER: Sam Ashwell
MUSIC: Priestess Shura Remix by Pumarosa
CREATIVE DIRECTOR ANIMATION: Sharon Lock
Fertility Animator: Roos Mattar
Menopause Animator: Kate Isobel Scott @ Everyone Agency
First Period Animator: Haein Kim
Endometriosis Animator: Carine Khalife
Floodgates Animator: Laura Jayne Hodkin @ Strange Beast
Tunnel of Love Animator: Salla Lehmus @ Soja
Animator: Annie Wong
Animator: Aylin Ohri
Animator: Meagan Elemans
Animator: Georgie Wilemore
Animator: Nella Addy
COMP LEAD: Tri Do
COMPOSITOR: Simon Stoney
DIGITAL MATTE PAINTING: Lee Matthews
FLAME: Tim Greenwood
COLOURIST: Simon Bourne
VFX PRODUCER: Emma Cook
DESIGN SENIOR PRODUCER: Niamh O’Donohoe
PHOTOGRAPHER: Adam Hinton
STRATEGISTS: Margaux Revol, Beatrice Farmelo, Bridget Angear
PR AGENCY & ANY OTHER PRODUCTION PARTNERS INVOLVED IN THE CAMPAIGN: Ketchum (PR), Poke (website)
Category: Beauty & Health , Sanitary protection