Edinburgh Fringe denies it banned women's health brand from campaigning at Festival

A row has broken out between Edinburgh Fringe Festival and women's health brand Elvie after the latter accused the Festival of banning its awareness campaign that includes a 19-ft, vagina-shaped blimp.

Elvie claims its campaign to tackle pelvic floor weakness was banned from sponsoring the event. The campaign was created with PR firm Don’t Cry Wolf to raise awareness of incontinence and shine a light on the silence surrounding the issue.

Elvie had partnered with pelvic floor physiotherapist and comedian Elaine Miller, whose daily show at the festival combines humour and education to tackle a health issue that affects the lives of one in three women in the UK.

With an estimated 2.8 million visitors descending on Edinburgh for Fringe festival, Elvie’s research suggests that 420,000 women could expect to experience embarrassing leaks during the month-long event.

The brand's original campaign plans included a pop-up on the Royal Mile - the Fringe’s main thoroughfare - but the design was deemed "not suitable" due to a representation of a vagina on the exterior of the structure. Elvie had also commissioned a 19ft, vagina-shaped blimp to be tethered in Festival Square.

In response, a petition – #LetFannyFly – started by the brand has gathered more than 3,000 signatures.

CEO and founder at Elvie, Tania Boler, said: "It’s [pelvic floor health] overlooked, or worse, treated as taboo and something to be ashamed of. We came to Edinburgh Fringe because we believed it was one festival that would not let taboos dictate their agenda."

However, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society denied the women's health brand has been banned from the festival. "The Fringe Society have been liaising with a third party agency over the past few months regarding a space for Elvie on the High St and at no point have we banned them from participating. The space in question is located right next to St Giles Cathedral and – alongside colleagues in City of Edinburgh Council – we have to consider the interests of multiple stakeholders when considering what activity can take place in that location."

The spokeswoman added: "We have been supportive of Elvie’s initiative from the outset, and have offered their agency multiple alternatives (both in terms of separate sites across the Fringe and different ways of organising their stand on the High St), but sadly have not been able to reach an agreement with them to date. The Society remains open to discussions with Elvie to try and find a way forward that suits both parties."

Although Don't Cry Wolf MD Sara Collinge MD said: "Even though we've been publicly asking for them to give us space we haven't heard from them. Down but not out, we decided we had to bring this to the public’s attention and we launched #LetFannyFly."

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