The MediaOnline – 16 August 2013

The euphemism and blatant exaggeration in fem-care ads has, for years, been ludicrous. For that reason only, I have hated ads from that category! And unlike most men, the products do not make me uncomfortable. I am one of those metrosexuals who do not easily get uncomfortable and I could scream ‘tampons’ without batting an eyelid. It’s the bad advertising that got me. So from the time I knew I hated all sanitary pads & tampons adverts, I decided to ignore them. This of course was until recently when vibrant new player, Hello Flo, brought some serious promise for fem-care.

Hello Flo is an online subscription service for women that has been on the lips of many in the USA. Although its service is revolutionary and category-defying, it is the advertising that has been the hot topic in the interwebs for the last two weeks. Throwing around words like ‘vagina’ and ‘menstruation’ in a YouTube ad, this new entrant has brought much needed fresh new messaging to the category.

About 1minute and 47 seconds long, the ad went viral, garnering over four million views within four days of upload. Its protagonist is a young girl at summer camp who feels like a loser because no one knows her, that is until she gets her first period. Being the first of the girls at the camp to experience this, she becomes a leader, a ‘Queen B’ who schools the rest of the girls on menstruation.

She soon assumes the role of ‘Camp Gyno’ and even calls herself a ‘Joan of Arc’ for the ‘vag.’ But her popularity bubble bursts when she starts becoming unsympathetic and mean. All the girls stop coming to her for advice and instead start receiving timeous care packages. She finds one in her ‘Camp Gyno’ office with all the necessities, including candy sent by, according to her, a ‘Santa for the Vagina’.

The Ad

This short film, done by Hello Flo owner, Naama Bloom and her two friends, BBDO creatives Pete Marquis and Jamie McCelland, smartly packages the Hello Flo brand. The ad works because it is so refreshingly honest. The commercial also captures people’s individual experiences with menstruation and packages this comically. This clever framing strikes a chord with not only the young girls but also with older women, and advertising men like me.

For US-based Hello Flo, the brand is not only coasting on a great online ad, but a great service offering too. It is an innovative solution – a sanitary subscription service that’s all about making women’s lives easier by discretely delivering what women need at the right time. It is an online service which puts together care packages that include tampons, panty liners and a little extra something to make the customer smile.

These packages are sent to the customer in time for their cycles, and specific to their flow requirements. For Bloom, it was all about continuing from where apps like LoveCycles, Period Plus and iPeriod leave off. It was not enough that the apps gave cycle reminders. She wanted the convenience of the reminders along with the right tampons/ pads at the right time.

Hello Flo’s offering proves that innovation in fem-care is very much needed. Also importantly, the category begs for better marketing efforts.  Although the sector has had some drama due to its advertising (remember Bodyform in 2012), brands have continued to push pastel colours, flowing fabrics and ridiculous smiles as part of the menstruation experience and these have never been true to life, however premium the brand. No one I know, male or female, has ever thought of menstruation and associated it with running on the beach, dancing joyously or with complete and utter happiness.

In its execution, the Camp Gyno spot pioneers truth, which gets a big hoorah from me. The offering, a simple service that betters the lives of its target consumer, is innovative and revolutionary. One hopes this will be a new precedent for other players in the category.