'What If Men Had Periods?' Thinx Asks in First TV Campaign

A unique take on destigmatizing menstruation

There's a trend in advertising around women's issues toward expressly getting men involved in the conversation. 

We saw this in the Stella McCartney ad featuring Idris Elba speaking poetically about breast cancer (a remarkable spot that won this year's Grand Clio in Fashion & Beauty). And now, Thinx, the maker of period-proof underwear, is taking a similar approach with its first national television spot, called "MENstruation"—which imagines if men had periods. 

As a way of generating empathy, it's a novel and not entirely risk-free approach. The trick is to acknowledge and lean into men's inherently limited point of view—or should we just say selfishness?—without it coming off as alienating. In this, the details—as always—are important. The variety of scenarios in the spot should indeed hold men's attention, and get them to think of (or better yet, feel) what it would actually be like to get a monthly period. This specificity helps keep the nagging question that viewers might otherwise wonder—"Why does everything have to be seen through men's eyes?"—somewhat at bay. 

The spot, by BBDO New York and directed by Rachel McDonald, will run on 18 U.S. networks, including Bravo, E!, Oxygen, BET, MTV, VH1, HGTV, the Food Network, TLC and NBC. 

"People with periods are taught from a young age that one of our body's natural processes is something to be ashamed of, and something we should go to great lengths to conceal," says Maria Molland, CEO of Thinx. "We're taught to hide our period products in our sleeves on the way to the restroom, and constantly check our clothes for any leaks or stains. In fact, 80 percent of teens [with periods] report a negative association with periods, and say they are gross or unsanitary." Molland continues: "In our first national television campaign, we are imagining the answer to this question: If all people had periods, including cisgender men, would they be normalized? Would we be able to talk openly about them, without shame?  Half the population does have a period, and we want to broaden the conversation to everyone, no period required."

Crystal Rix, chief strategy officer of BBDO New York, says the goal was "authenticity and empathy. So much of the industry and culture uses ridiculous euphemism to talk about periods. We wanted an honest and sincere attempt to build understanding and empathy for people with periods." 

Siobhan Lonergan, chief brand officer at Thinx, adds that the spot is about more than selling products. "It's about starting a conversation with the goal of making that discussion more comfortable for everyone, as well as an opportunity to better educate people on the options that are better for the planet and their bodies," she says. 

CREDITS

Agency, BBDO New York
Bianca Guimaraes, VP Creative Director
Peter Alsante, VP Creative Director
Jenn Tranbarger, ACD/AD
Jess Rello, ACD/CW
David Lubars, Chief Creative Office, Worldwide
Greg Hahn, Chief Creative Office, New York

Angela Narloch, Executive Producer
Anthony Curti, Executive Producer
Corie Rosenblatt, Producer
Yamaris Leon, Content Operations Director
Julia Millison, Music Producer
Shelly Bloch, Business Manager
Dave Rolfe, Head of Integrated Production

Katherine Grib. Account Director
Olivia Dames, Account Executive

Crystal Rix, Chief Strategy Officer
Nicole Landesman, SVP Brand Strategist
Kim Ryneska, SVP Brand Strategist
Christine Yang, Data Solutions Manager

Client, Thinx
Maria Molland, CEO
Siobhán Lonergan, Chief Brand Officer
Hilary Fischer-Groban, Brand Director
Meng Shui, Creative Director
Daniella Sakhai, Senior Manager of Performance Marketing
Meredith Zingale, Brand and Creative Project Manager

Production, Biscuit
Shawn Lacy, Partner/Managing Director
Rachel McDonald, Director
Autumn Durald Arkapaw, Director of Photography
Holly Vega, Executive Producer
Mercedes Allen-Sarria, Head of Production
Rachel Glaub, Head of Production
Maury Strong, Line Producer

Editorial, Arcade
Sila Soyer, Executive Producer
Arlene Perez, Producer
Laura Sanford, Editor
Jeff Lopus, Editor
Max Hoffman, Asst Editor

Sound Design, Heard City
Gloria Pitagorsky, MD/Partner
Eric Warzecha, Audio Engineer

Color, Company 3
Sofie Borup, Colorist
Alexandra Lubrano, Producer

Finishing Company, The Mill
Bethany Phillips, Producer
Luke Proctor, Producer
Anton Anderson, VFX Artist
David Forcada, VFX Artist
Justin Keil, VFX Artist
Jamie Scott, VFX Artist
Drew Maloney, VFX Artist
Sam Caine, VFX Artist
Corey Brown, VFX Artist

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Tim Nudd
Tim Nudd is editor in chief of the Clio Awards.