Almost getting banned was probably the best imaginable outcome for the provocative new ad campaign from a New York underwear label that wants to get people talking about women’s periods.
Thinx, a proudly feminist cause-based brand, received infinitely more exposure than it could have paid for when its ad campaign for NYC subways was temporarily red-flagged earlier this week for being “inappropriate”.
The ad series — which included images of a halved grapefruit and dripping egg yolk — promotes Thinx’s absorbent ‘period panties’. More importantly, though, it was meant to challenge the stigma about discussing menstruation “outside of whispers from woman to woman”.
But that noble goal didn’t get past the third-party agency that reviews ads for the city transit system, which called the symbolism in the ads “too suggestive” and objected to the use of the word “periods”. It recommended Thinx find “another way to position” its message to commuters.
Thinx responded by posting emails from the reviewing agency on its Facebook page, triggering a predictable flurry of outrage and media attention. As one Twitter follower succinctly put it: “Disapproval of the ads just proves the point that they need to exist.”
Late yesterday, the New York Times quoted a transit authority official as saying the Thinx campaign will be approved, despite the objections of its review agency.
Ironically, the timing of all this could not have been better for Thinx, a disruptive brand that raised nearly $85,000 through crowdfunding two years ago for its uniquely altruistic business model and whose motto is “Change your underwear, change the world.”
The company, formed by three friends, partnered with an agency in Uganda that makes reusable cloth sanitary pads for impoverished young women. For every pair of underwear sold, Thinx pays for the production of an AfriPads kit that is distributed to school-age girls, who often avoid school during their periods. This approach provides jobs for women employed in the AfriPads factory and helps teens overcome the stigma around menstruation.
The ad controversy blew up just as Thinx was about to open its first week-long pop-up shop, at 90 Stanton Street, to introduce its new line of sport panties (shown below). The ‘Mindful Body’ pop-up shop opened last night and features Thinx and other local brands.
Thinx currently offers four panty styles ranging in price from $24 to $32 and with different levels of absorbency.
It is unclear when the company’s ads will begin showing up on subway cars but, when they do, one thing is certain: New York commuters will finally have something to talk about.