Frida Fertility Fails to Explain How It Makes 'Trying' Less Trying
In a first from Frida Fertility and creative/production company Majestic Beast, we give you “Trying Can Be Trying."
Frida products are designed to simplify baby-making. Behind a catchy tagline, Majestic Beast delivers a tongue-in-cheek treatise on running the modern gauntlet of pregnancy.
The result is an oversimplification of what's ultimately a complicated story that varies from person to person—but that's fine. The ad spotlights a lot of "legit" conception methods (insofar as anybody knows)—like checking one's temperature and turkey-basting—and mixes them with some mythology, like eating pineapples and elevating your legs.
According to Frida, women under 35 are advised to try conceiving for a year before seeking medical aid, and only one in six of them will require intervention for clinical "infertility." This means most women who fit into that tranche can get pregnant, but have to try "in the dark," as it were, for the first year.
Things can get murky in this process. Frida wants to help, with products that divide the conception journey into multiple steps. They even sell an at-home insemination kit, so you don't have to turkey baste with a kitchen tool. Yay?
According to Frida, six in 10 women think they can get pregnant at any time in their cycle. Seven in 10 don't know when they're ovulating, and one-third of fertility issues are actually related to the sperm-bringer in the coupling.
"Our mission at Frida has always been to prepare parents for the unfiltered realities of parenthood, and now, with Frida Fertility, that starts the moment you think about becoming a parent," says Chelsea Hirschhorn, brand CEO (and mother of four). "Women will no longer be left on an endless internet search for 'how to get pregnant,' and can feel supported and informed from the beginning of their conception journey."
It's unclear from the ad how those dots connect. Are the products meant to provide that support and information?
Actually, Frida's pressie expresses a desire to offer support from prep through insemination and conception. It plans to educate parents-to-be through a holistic marketing platform, dedicated to mythbusting baby-making. "It's the sex-ed content you wish you would've gotten," the brand pithily states.
Honestly, I'd prefer to have better sex ed, and a greater social onus on men to learn about sexuality, how birth control works, and the possibilities of pregnancy. My first potential conception partner, in his mid-30s, asked if I was pregnant the day after I stopped taking birth control. My second, who's 40, asked when pregnant people get their periods.
I'm not making fun of these guys. Those are legitimate questions. But for their partners, who've had to think about this in various iterations, often for decades, it's a cold-water moment to realize that's where your dude's level of knowledge resides—and you'll have to meet him where he's at.
(Actually, Frida's got something that could help tell precisely these kinds of stories: Mineral boosters for both women and men trying to get pregnant at later ages. Because it's not just one person's burden, right?)
The Western world puts the educational burden almost exclusively on the baby-carrying parent, but that's not the only issue. The shoddy and inconsistent nature of American sex ed—intertwining sex with shame and discouraging questions—is equally problematic. If Frida is hoping to fill that gap, it's got its work cut out, and I'd like to see that marketing plan.
My sex ed involved a spontaneous roleplaying scenario, where I played "Maria" to another student's "Jose," and we "got married." A table represented our marital bed, and we sat on it while every person in our class progressively joined us there. These people represented previous sexual partners before marriage, and the exercise was designed to teach us that when you have premarital sex, all past partners join you in the wedding suite.
So, so weird.
More relevant to the topic at hand, I've been on the fertility journey for years, with a few partners, subjected to invasive testing and unsolicited mythologies. It's a trip that's equally brutal and delicate—and yeah, vague as hell, not only in the years you wander blind, but also when encountering various healthcare professionals and hearing people's stories. On this road, you quickly slam against the limits of current science, doctors' knowledge, and notions of who society thinks should be having children, and in what contexts.
This ad isn't a reflection of my journey. There are vestiges, sure: Putting legs up after insemination? Many cultures proffer that one. But there's something about the couple's behavior that hews too close to stereotypes for the jokes to pass.
The woman is so focused on her goal that it overrides her husband's feelings, schedule, sexual desire or humanity (she ignores him after having inexplicably self-basted, and shuts him down when he sticks around to be with her). This is a great way of feeding the old "once women lock you down they only care about one thing" trope, which has been a freaking booger to deal with my entire sexual life, both when I wanted kids and when I didn't.
The guy is an equally harmful stereotype—a bumbling dad-to-be just doing what he's told, functionally useless except as a sperm distributor, and operating under the complete control of his partner with cartoonish resignation and anxiety. This entire story is recounted as a flashback; in real-time, where he's already a parent, he trails off with a weird TMI-ish moment to his children, describing how "daddy had to stop wearing tighty whities." At best, that's a pointless detail that makes no sense to the kids. At worst, it's a reminder that this guy can't be trusted to speak, let alone think, for himself.
The work is mean to both of them. Not on purpose, but it is anyway, and it doesn't feel good to watch.
Maybe the point of using these stereotypes is to hit people who absolutely don't want to be like this, yet somehow found themselves sinking into those roles as desperation rose. But there isn't any compassion here, no sense of relationship allegiance. Children seem required to complete the family unit, or maybe the house—the final stage of a product cycle.
For all that, there is a lot of humor in the conception journey. So much of it is surreal, and I wish those aspects manifested in this work, which vibes like it just built a framework around a list of requisite behaviors. Yet despite that clinical sense of checking-off, the ad doesn't do much to explain how Frida's alarming packshot—that's a huge product array!—actually makes "trying" less trying (and won't just introduce more complexity).
The packaging's cute though, and again, there's helpful stuff in there, organized in such a way that if you encounter it all in proper order, at your local pharmacy, maybe it would feel clarifying.
This first video will be reinforced by "educational science-backed content" in partnership with reproductive endocrinologist and infertility specialist Dr. Stephanie Thompson of The Institute for Reproductive Medicine and Science, as well as influencer videos that will normalize different fertility journeys on TikTok.
Score the Frida Fertility line at Target, CVS, Amazon and Frida.com from this month onward. And good luck to Majestic Beast. We look forward to seeing more from you.
CEO: Chelsea Hirschhorn
President: Eric Hirschhorn
SVP of Marketing: Dan Connors
Brand Manager: Grace Gil
VP of Digital: Halie Savage
VP of Creative: Matt Orser
Producer: Lindsay Stillman Cohen
3D Motion & Graphic Artist: Ricky Mantilla
Creative Studio - Majestic Beast
Chief Creative Beast- Bob Winter
Director- PJ Fishwick
Line Producer- Jonah Mueller
Chief Production Beast- Matt Abramson
Chief Managing Beast- Jen Shelley
Editorial - Whitehouse Post
Editor / Partner- Matthew Wood
Assistant Editor - Lauren Malis
Sr. Executive Producer - Kristin Angeletti
Finish - Carbon
Color – Carbon
Colorist – Bree Brackett
Color Assist – Zoe Lambert
Color EP – Laurie Adrianopoli
Mix - Bam Studios
Mix Engineer - Dave Leffel