The actor Annie Murphy, best known for her residence in the fictional Canadian town Schitt’s Creek, boldly announces her new location in an advertisement for the birth control product Phexxi.
“Welcome to my vagina,” says Murphy, who won an Emmy Award for her performance on the hit sitcom. “In here, I make the rules.”
The word choice may strike some as taboo.
That’s what the leaders of Evofem Biosciences and their creative partners wanted to change with the advertising campaign for Phexxi, a contraceptive whose primary selling point is that unlike other birth control options, it’s hormone free.
“Why are we so scared to say ‘vagina?’” asked Saundra Pelletier, CEO of Evofem, which has received approval from the Food and Drug Administration for the gel. “We want women to stop the shame and this craziness about their bodies.”
Evofem spent seven months on the House Rules campaign, with McCann Health as the AOR, leading the creative process. Real Chemistry worked on the campaign’s social media and PR material. Filip Engstrom of Smuggler directed the advertisement, and Big Sky Edit did the editing.
Chris Ryan of Nice Shoes served as the colorist, and Tom Jucarone of Sound Lounge engineered the audio.
As they worked on the campaign, the creatives considered, “Are we being too edgy? Is this just going to be about a crazy vagina set and then Phexxi is going to get lost?” recalled Jillian Watkins, McCann VP and associate creative director.
In answering that question, Watkins echoed Pelletier’s assertion that society needs to discuss the vagina more.
To do that, they worked to ensure the advertising was “sophisticated and elegant and done in a very classy way that was raising [the vagina] up as an important powerful thing that women should take ownership of,” Watkins explained.
In spite of the team’s careful approach, the big networks won’t air the advertisement during prime-time programming, which is fine because their target audience is on cable television, explained Melinda Milovic, McCann VP and associate creative director.
The advertisement has more than 4,000 views on YouTube.
Pelletier of Evofem said the company have received thousands of comments from “women who say how brave and amazing it is that [Murphy] is talking about this.”
“The only negative comments we have had are from men who say, ‘I don’t like this because you said the word ‘vagina,’” Pelletier said. “You know what? You got here because someone had sex with a vagina — sorry… Give me a break.”