AMVBBDO’s Margaux Revol, Strategy Director and Bea Farmelo, Senior Strategist spent some time with AME’s Effective Perspective to share the inspiration and strategy behind their ground-breaking campaign Wombstories.
The 2021 AME Best of Show and Platinum winning campaign “Wombstories” celebrated womanhood and took the viewer to where no other brand has gone before, in the womb. The 3-minute film weaves together multiple story lines about the culture of shame and silence that surrounds women’s intimate experiences and inspired women to share their own stories while building up market share across the world.
Dazzling results include over 100 million views spread to 132 countries. In the UK, “Wombstories” achieved #1 share of social voice, a 200% increase in followers. The innovative campaign trended online and built market share across the world - 8.1% (UK), 14.1% (Russia; highest share ever), 9.9% (Denmark). And “Wombstories” helped to raise €7,000 in France for contraception projects, and £9,000 for Endometriosis UK.
AME Awards What was the inspiration for “Wombstories” and how did you decide to tell your story by taking the viewer into the womb to bring your idea to life?
Margaux Revol & Bea Farmelo: The inspiration for Wombstories came from our recognition that for decades, society had been protecting and projecting a single, reductive view of womanhood. One where you’d get your period at 12, handle some pain discreetly, want babies, have babies easily, have some more periods and quietly retire with your body into menopause. And advertising within the category was equally guilty of perpetuating this myth.
This wasn’t just lazy simplification. It was an effective narrative corset suffocating our real experiences. It made anything that didn’t fit into this ‘single story’ feel abnormal, less valid, and less real.
With Wombstories, we wanted to reimagine an alternative paradigm where our wombs wouldn’t be leaky taps or passive sacks, but a powerful second seat of power full of emotional story. By visualising the interior of our wombs, we could begin to open up an emotional and human way to express the often complicated, contradictory feelings that we have with our bodies and periods.
AME Awards: The campaign stepped up the brands battle against the culture and shame that surrounds women’s intimate experiences, what did you ultimately want to accomplish with the 3-minute film?
Margaux Revol & Bea Farmelo: In a world where our intimate experiences are cast into shame and silence, we wanted to give a voice and a new visceral language to women, allowing them to reclaim their bodies and stories in all their glorious complications. Our ambition was not just to move the conversation on, but start millions of new ones, creating a catalyst for both individual and collective catharsis.
And we wanted to revolutionise how we market to women - showing that really listening and telling the truth about their bodies, rather than telling them what they should aspire to be, or what they should hide, or what they should feel is the key to success.
AME Awards: Share some of your creative processes that led to selling this ground-breaking idea to the client to this world-wide award-winning entry?
Margaux Revol & Bea Farmelo: We are very lucky to have incredible clients in Tanja Grubner, Martina Poulapati and Luciana Lara who truly believe in what we are doing together, and the partnership that we have, and who are able to push the work internally. Of course, breaking taboos can be scary, but Essity are truly able to see the importance and value of what we are doing, in helping support women and allowing them to lead the lives they want.
We’re also extremely thorough with research and testing our ideas both pre and post-production to ensure the strategy and campaign resonates with our audiences across the world.
AME Awards: Talk about the period from inspiration to final execution of the campaign and your experience working with a predominantly female crew, and an all-women team of animators and illustrators?
Margaux Revol & Bea Farmelo: A huge amount of the success on this account is the fact that we never take a cookie cutter, paint by numbers process for creativity. It’s a constant dance and back and forth between creative and strategy, inspiring each other and pushing the work to a more powerful and rewarding place.
Working with an all-women team of animators and illustrators meant that there was a clear and intuitive sense of what might be right and what was wrong. There were a lot of shared experiences amongst the team which brought a whole new level of nuance and thoughtfulness to the work.
AME Awards: Please share any creative and logistical challenges you faced throughout the production and how you solved them.
Margaux Revol & Bea Farmelo: Working on a global piece of business is always complicated, with different cultural nuances within each market. There are such different levels of taboos and stigma as well as legal and media restrictions. It isn’t just a matter of public backlash - sometimes it can be death threats or jail time.
We want to push boundaries but do so with sensitivity towards these cultural nuances. That’s why multi-market research is so important to understand where these tension points are and how far we can push.
In terms of the creative production, it was a huge challenge to fit the animation into the part of the edit to create the whole - hoping, praying, and planning with our artists and production partners that it would all work together and give us individuality in the stories but also the emotion we needed to land as a whole.
The trickiest thing was probably whittling the imagery down in the edit to find a way to tell the stories in the most succinct way, without losing the number of subjects we wanted to touch on and without making an hour-long film.
AME Awards: What were some of the key strategic elements that led to the campaign’s success?
Margaux Revol & Bea Farmelo: For centuries, women’s stories and experiences have been dismissed, sanitised, and rationalised away as being ‘all in your head’. Emotions have always been seen as a problem and it was so important for us to push back against this entrenched way of thinking to get to the most meaningful insights to feed into the work.
So, when everyone was asking how to fix women’s bodies and telling them how to feel, we did something revolutionary, we asked them ‘how does it feel’ and then we actually listened.
In our research with women, we disrupted the traditional and often formulaic methodologies and instead used projection techniques, reimagining our questions with creativity and empathy. It was a turning point in the campaign. We liken it to finding a goldmine of data that had been hiding in plain sight.
AME Awards: What was the reaction internally at Libresse to the results of the campaign? What results were you most proud of and why?
Margaux Revol & Bea Farmelo: Following on from the achievements of our previous campaigns, Wombstories is our most holistic, inclusive, complex but also successful campaign ever. It’s broken new grounds for the brand and for the business but also for women’s health and wellbeing.
Of course, we are incredibly proud of the beauty, quality and craft of the film but what makes our heart sing is how much it resonated with women around the world. Billions of views, thousands of shares and comments. Quite honestly, it is humbling and awe-inspiring and unlike anything we have experienced before.
In particular, what we’re proud of is those significant moments of connection between strangers in the comments online. Whether it’s a fellow endometriosis sufferer reassuring another the day before her surgery or someone opening up about her miscarriage and another commenting saying she’d had a couple and to privately message her if she wanted support. We talk about going from silence to solidarity, and you really feel it in those moments.
AME Awards: “Wombstories” wowed the AME Grand Jury and awards juries around the globe. The spectacularly effective film earned the 2021 AME Best of Show, the Regional Platinum Award – Europe and 3 AME Gold Awards what does this accomplishment mean to you and the team at Libresse?
Margaux Revol & Bea Farmelo: It’s such an incredible achievement for everyone on the team and a wonderful validation of all the hard work we’ve put in over the past 2 years. And more importantly, it’s a recognition of the importance of this campaign and what it's doing to improve the health and wellbeing of millions of women.
AME Awards: What is next for your client Libresse?
Margaux Revol & Bea Farmelo: Wombstories is continuing to launch in more countries, and has currently launched in around 30, which is a massive achievement for the brand.
This campaign isn’t a flash in the pan. It was the next chapter of the Live Fearless strategy that we created in 2013. So, wherever we go next, we’ll continue to take risks, push boundaries, and make sure we’re showing up unexpectedly in the most meaningful ways.