Libra's new ad campaign is tackling period stigma head-on, by depicting actual blood on pads for the first time.
The #bloodnormal campaign aims to show women experiencing their period as a part of life: during sex, in the shower, at a dinner party, at school.
Gone are the days of period ads where women can 'achieve anything' while menstruating (and crucially, 'achieving anything' usually means swimming or riding a bike); this ad shows periods like they are: normal, boring, sometimes emotional /painful/awkward, sometimes not.
"Thanks for your email. I'm having a very heavy period so will be working from home today," one woman writes.
In an Australian first, blood is depicted on a pad for the first time. Traditionally, blue liquid is used to demonstrate absorbency, but Libra's ad is aiming to denote a more realistic portrayal.
"Periods are normal. Showing them should be too," the tagline reads.
A final shot in the full campaign video shows a pixelated image of blood on a pad attached to a woman's underwear as she goes to the bathroom, a familiar sight to many but one hard to image has graced our screens before.
"Periods are such a normal and healthy part of life, but aren’t discussed in public discourse and they aren’t shown in pop culture," Caitlin Patterson, executive general manager of Libra parent company Asaleo, told 10 daily.
"We believe that like any other taboo, the more people see it, the more normal the subject becomes."
Tackling period stigma is becoming something of a trend for brands. In 2016, British company Bodyform showed female athletes bleeding from broken noses and scraped shins to promote the message that "no blood should hold us back", while this year UK-based tampon subscription service Pink Parcel included a trans man in its campaign to raise awareness that not all people who menstruate are women.
Research shows period stigma is still impacting women (as well as some trans men and gender non-conforming people) from achieving in work and education.
Indigenous girls in rural and remote Australia report missing school because they couldn't afford or didn't have access to sanitary products, while Libra research found 67 percent of teenage girls would rather fail a subject at school than have their class know they were menstruating.
That same Libra research found eight in 10 women believed there is still a stigma attached to periods (more so than drugs, sex, STDs and mental health), while almost a quarter of women aged 18-24 are embarrassed to purchase pads or tampons.
Dr Lauren Rosewarne, senior lecturer at the University of Melbourne, said period stigma was becoming left behind in a society becoming more inclusive and open around topics such as mental illness.
"Perhaps that's because periods aren't something we commonly see on TV, in movies or on Instagram -- if young girls are brought up to hide their period, then they will continue to feel and believe it's something shameful, embarrassing and needing to be hidden," she said.
The award-winning campaign, created by AMV BBDO London, will be aired on Network 10 primetime programs including The Bachelor, The Project and Gogglebox.
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