There have always been those things you don't talk about in public circles. Super Uncomfortable Off-Limits Topic #1: Women's monthly periods.
That's why, until very recently, marketing feminine hygiene products was all about the best ways to keep the topic--and the product--extremely well hidden. ("New Neat and Discreet" was Playtex's message in a tampon ad from the late 1980s, which celebrated products that were easier to conceal than ever before.) Why should women risk potential mortification by carrying their tampons out in the open?
But in the past few years, a few pioneering brands challenged that kind of archaic thinking. They've been creating catchy, shareable, and often hilarious content in an effort to lose the stigma around periods--and unabashedly call attention to their products.
And people are--in droves.
Here's what you can learn from brands that are making a lot of noise about a once off-limits topic--and driving publicity and sales in the process.
THINX Thinks Globally
THINX launched in May 2015, offering direct sales of period underwear on their e-commerce site. Shortly after its launch, THINX released a short film, "The Week," which explores period stigma around the world. The short film not only made strides in erasing the period taboo, but it also raised brand awareness for the newcomer and its tie to its charity partner, AfriPads with over a half million views on YouTube.
"If you learn new information from a brand, then it builds trust. I think it really helps solidify our brand beyond just being a product," says CEO and founder, Miki Agrawal.
THINX's content marketing efforts also include "The Periodical" blog and newsletter, Twitter and Instagram accounts, and an option to send pre-populated tweets about "The Week" to an influencer--an effort that has earned re-tweets from the likes of Sophia Bush and Mindy Kaling.
The Takeaway: Focus on making your brand's content entertaining, relevant, and even a little humorous--even if you're selling a product that's traditionally thought of as dry or boring. Integrate your brand organically into your colorful, creative messaging.
U by Kotex Saves the Undies
The Kotex brand has been around for nearly 100 years, and in 2010 parent company Kimberly-Clark launched U by Kotex with a decidedly younger, hipper look than its predecessor. U by Kotex's bold, bright packaging demands to be seen, and its content marketing follows suit.
U by Kotex's "Save the Undies" integrated marketing campaign brazenly reclaims the once-taboo conversation of how to prevent menstrual stains with the brand's product line. Conversational videos, shareable #savetheundies posters, an "UnderWarrior" profile photo generator, and a frank blog on the campaign's website set the tone for women to talk freely about their periods.
U by Kotex even created a nostalgia-inspired 8-bit video game--"Padland"--as part of its Save the Undies content. "A significant number of women in our target audience are gamers, so it was only natural for us to innovate within our marketing plans and create a game that brought both content, entertainment, and relevant brand messaging to these consumers," says Melissa Dennis, Senior Brand Manager of U by Kotex, Kimberly Clark.
The Takeaway: Even if your target audience's demographic has remained consistent, the actual audience evolves over time. Stay current with the channels and messaging that best reach them to keep up with their evolution.
HelloFlo Grows from Online Retailer to Content Pro
In 2013, HelloFlo made a content marketing splash with its "Camp Gyno" viral video, which currently has over 11 million views. Those views translated to sales of HelloFlo's e-commerce sales of period starter kits and subscription boxes, and the video sparked a conversation that would ultimately guide a brand evolution.
"After 'Camp Gyno' came out, I received literally thousands of e-mails from women around the world asking for more videos on topics like menopause, postpartum, and endometriosis," says Naama Bloom Founder of HelloFlo and SVP of Integrated Marketing at SheKnows.
HelloFlo expanded to offer more women's health content and subscription courses. Educational blog posts, videos, and a "Period Piece" web series continue the period conversation, while posts on pregnancy, menopause, and other female body transition moments now reach a new audience.
The brand was just acquired last month by SheKnows Media, and has inked a year-long partnership with Kimberly-Clark. The partnership recently released its first collaboration - "A Visit From Aunt Flo" - on April 12th.
The Takeaway: When your brand's content marketing sparks a conversation, listen to what your customers are saying. Their input will help you identify customers' passion points and needs, allowing you to organically evolve the brand to better serve your customers.