Bodyform's latest campaign about periods focuses on the loss of sleep people face when menstruating as the brand promotes its Goodnight Towels.
"#Periodsomnia" by Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO is based on research that people who menstruate lose about five months of sleep over their lifetime because of discomfort and anxiety.
The film, which has been directed by Kim Gehrig through Somesuch, shows people suffering from "periodsomnia," -- as the brand puts it –- because they are struggling to sleep. Some are seen in pain, another is shown farting, while one woman lies awake while bed sharing with her baby and partner who are soundly asleep.
Tanja Grubner, femcare global marketing and communications director at Essity, which owns Bodyform, told Campaign that the brand wanted to make sure that the work appeals to everyone that has a period so it included the 1% of society that are trans men or non-binary.
The brand is also referring to the people it is targeting as women+ as a way of being inclusive.
Grubner said that advertising does not do enough to represent society as a whole.
"When we defined our purpose and what we as a brand want to stand for, we wanted to cater to everyone from first period to last," she explained. "We didn't put women in there and we didn't put ages in there."
"It's a no brainer that you show a diversity of body types and ethnicities and we also wanted to be representative of the LGBTQ+ community," said Grubner.
She added that it is important that being inclusive is not seen as a "tick-boxing exercise" so the brand takes care when choosing the right cast and the insights they bring to the campaign.
The ad mixes live action, animation and thermal imagery to highlight that "periods never sleep," the brand explained. An uptempo track, "Deep Inside" by Hardrive, plays over the two-minute film.
"The reality shown through #Periodsomnia is that it can be more chaotic for some women+. It's time to stop treating women+ like broken pipes which leak. They just have periods," Grubner said. "By revealing these universal truths, we tackle the invisibility around the realities of nights spent menstruating to reassure women+ that what they go through is completely normal and that they're not alone in their experiences."
Mixing reality with surreal
The film, which is launching on Wednesday, was created by Anzhela Hayrabedyan and Luca Grosso. Hayrabedyan said that the film shows real stories from the cast, and the initial idea from Gehrig was to film in their homes. However, due to COVID-19 restrictions, the team had to recreate the bedrooms on a film set.
"You do all that realness but there is only a certain amount of feeling that you can get from that, so this is where the surreal part comes in. How do we express what these women are feeling and going through?" Grasso said. "You can show a woman being hot and kicking the sheets but what she's really feeling is something you only understand when you see her melt down the side of the bed or what a climax feels like. The thermal imagery was the portal in between the realness and surrealness."
The brand is also one of the first to tap into stories of women on the periods at night. Margaux Revol, head of brand at AMV BBDO, said that the team wanted to "pay tribute to what happens in the dark" in a way that no other brand has done before in this category.
Gehrig also directed Viva La Vulva, which was released in 2018.
"As a teenager I would be awake for endless hours on nights that I had my period. I would ask my mother to go to the late-night pharmacy at 3 a.m. to get me painkillers. Even though they were a little helpful, those nights were always uncomfortable, lonely and truly exhausting. Yet, in the morning I was expected to go to school and perform like any other day," she said.
This story first appeared on campaignlive.co.uk.