Nice ad - but where's the PR?

Bodyform's You Tube viral caught everyone's attention. But, could it have been better planned?


How was your Facebook feed last week? Did it go manic for a viral video from Bodyform, the makers of sanitary towels? (There. Sanitary towels. I said it.)

Earlier this month, a bloke called Richard Neill wrote a tongue-in-cheek posting on Bodyform's Facebook page. He highlighted how Bodyform's advertising suggests that during their periods, women are having an active and wonderful time. Imagine his surprise, he wrote, to discover instead that his girlfriend turns into the child from The Exorcist. In three days his post attracted more than 92,000 likes and 4,000 comments.

Instead of offering some straight-laced retort, Bodyform's media agency, Carat, created a hilarious video response from a fictitious CEO, 'Caroline Williams', addressed to Richard. Uploaded on to YouTube, MSN video and its own Facebook page, she apologised for creating a myth and explained that Bodyform was trying to protect men from the truth about women's bodies.

Within 24 hours it had 175,000 views and 5,000 likes on YouTube alone. Bodyform not only appealed to its own fans but generated new followers and likes on its Facebook page. The top ten Twitter authors mentioning it had more than 2.2 million followers; 25 per cent of social media comments about it contained a positive mention of it or Bodyform; negative conversation reduced from seven to four per cent (all data by social media agency Yomego).

Despite some suggestions that the whole thing was a set-up, this great example of social media marketing garnered much praise for the brand from the Huffington Post to The Daily Telegraph, from Metro and Mashable to even the Daily Mail. Grazia wrote: 'Hooray for Bodyform! ...

We salute you'; YouTube viewer Vicky Stringer commented: 'Bodyform make lady nappies look pretty and they have an undeniable sense of humour. What's not to love about this company?'

So a nice piece of tactical, advertising-led fun. But what - if any - was the message that was supposed to play out in the media? Ad people don't really care. A quote from Carat talked about 'presenting a humorous take on an often slightly taboo subject'. So can we expect a PR-led campaign to generate debate to break down the taboo? I suspect not.

Takeaway Tips





  Andrew Caesar-Gordon

Leveraging great PR off inventive advertising and other marketing initiatives is a mainstay of integrated comms for consumer brands. But is it set in a broader PR-led narrative piece? If the Bodyform owners really wanted a debate on this 'taboo' subject, it needed to be more obviously factored into the PR.

Discussing social media in the 'earned, owned and paid media' debate, US comms commentator, Todd Defren, has written: 'Earned media is far and away the most effective influencer of consumer trust.' If PR is not to lose the battle to own social media, it needs to be as creative as advertising.

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