AME Effective Perspective Winners Viewpoint: Margaux Revol & Bridget Angear
“Viva La Vulva” AMVBBDO Margaux Revol, Strategy Director & Bridget Angear, Joint Chief Strategy Officer
Margaux Revol, Strategy Director & Bridget Angear, Joint Chief Strategy Officer join AME's Effective Perspective to share their inspiration, strategy, and results for their Best in Show and Platinum-winning work.
Keep reading to find out more about how Viva La Vulva started a multi-country cultural conversation that broke conventions about how women thought about their vulva’s and intimate products.
Powerful Results: 5 million organic views. a 96% gain of positive comments on social media and Libresse gained market share reaching 33%
AMVBBDO’s Viva La Vulva is a lip-sync music video with a twist: It shows a beautiful diversity of vulvas of every shape and color singing loud and proud to the women who love them and set to the iconic track ‘Take Yo’ Praise’ by Camille Yarbrough. The film was released in Scandinavia and travelled earning praise around the globe, from the US to UK to India. It smashed all benchmarks in brand engagement and interest, with over half of women finding that the ad had made the brand seem different in the category – over double the norm. With £0 media support, the film had over 5 million organic views, gained 96% positive comments on social media and in just 5 weeks after the launch Libresse gained market share reaching 33%.
Impressed the 2020 AME Grand Jury
“This is brilliant, bold, brave work. One of my favourites from 2019. This work proves that you don’t need to conform to the category and being different is far more meaningful to consumers.” Dom Hickey, Head of Planning, DDB Group Australia
“Best in breed for sure. Amazing effort… One of the best efforts of the year. Game changing.” Peter Bunarek, Managing Director BBDO Atlanta
“Great insight with outstanding execution. Strong business results in an established category. The brand has been able to redefine feminine hygiene into female empowerment, creating new norms to follow.” Heather Segal, Group Strategy Director, Zulu Alpha Kilo Canada
AME Awards: What was the inspiration for “Viva La Vulva” and what did you ultimately hope to accomplish?
Margaux Revol, & Bridget Angear: As Libresse expanded beyond periods into caring products, we wanted to bring the same empathy & bravery as we had brought to period care with our previous, ban-defying, boundaries-breaking campaign Bloodnormal.
When it came to women’s vulvas, girls aren’t born feeling ashamed of their bodies. But somehow, society and culture carry such taboos and objectification of women’s bodies that they make women lose ownership of their genitals and fill them with ignorance and self-loathing. Between centuries of prudery around women’s genitals and the more recent porn culture, the toxic cocktail has resulted in increased insecurities with real health & confidence consequences.
When it came to the marketing heritage of intimate care, it was a shame-centric, problem-solution, belly-button-washing marketing that was leaving women feeling bad about themselves, ashamed to use intimate products, and pretty clueless.
To show women how much we cared about their vulvas, we’d confront the issue head on, promoting a healthier relationship between women and their vulvas.
We’d reposition the category and more importantly, what was a dark corner of women’s bodies: We’d show that the only imperfect vulva is the one that is silenced, ignored or unloved.
AME Awards: Was your client Libresse on board immediately with the concept you pitched?
Margaux Revol, & Bridget Angear: It’s hard to describe that reaction when, in our creative presentation, we explained that, obviously, we had to make vulvas sing.
But yes, the reaction of our clients Martina Poulopati and Tanja Grubner were extremely positive, and they helped us champion the campaign internally and in the relentless battle with media platforms that kept banning the content.
AME Awards: Talk about the period from inspiration to final execution of the campaign?
If you think of the feminine intimate care category, constantly hiding, euphemising, shaming, patronising or misleading women, we wanted to dynamite the shame and stereotypes with positivity and self-acceptance. Having a vulva and caring for it shouldn’t be a dirty secret.
So obviously, the vulvas had to sing.
Bringing the lip-syncing to the next level felt right: It was irreverent, subversive, celebratory, and joyful. But at the same time, it was finally giving a voice to this part of the body that had always been censored, objectified and unloved by women.
Diversity & inclusivity was essential to the idea, because at the heart of women’s genital dissatisfaction was the pressure for women to have the “perfect” vulva promoted by porn culture: young, hairless, symmetrical, petite, fair complexion... Through hundreds of diverse vulvas, hairy or not, lighter or darker, vulvas of all ages, all shapes & textures, we celebrated the reality of women’s anatomy to show that “different”, in this department, is in fact the norm.
Finally, we wanted the campaign to tackle the issue with humour. Not because you have a serious message does it have to all be tears and downers. For us, this was the most subversive act of rebellion. Enabling women to love & laugh their way through the other side. Cutting through that darkness to find light again.
AME Awards: Please share any creative and logistical challenges you faced throughout the campaign and how you solved them.
Margaux Revol, & Bridget Angear: Creatively, the production of the campaign had to reflect the ambition of celebrating the multiplicity & diversity of vulvas. It was a wonderful effort of collaboration between creatives, the director Kim Gehrig, the many women who appear in the film & talked openly about their relationship with their vulva and the many feminist artists from different fields who all produced their own props and interpretations of diverse vulvas (from origami to puppets, paintings, balloons or embroidery) – the production challenge was to orchestrate this beautiful mix of people, talent and representations in a feel-good campaign that would be so fun & gorgeous it would make it impossible for people not to like it or stop to think.
Now the big challenge we faced was with media platforms. Everywhere the campaign launched online platforms kept censoring the content – deemed indecent and sexual and deemed from a “sexual” type of product. This highlighted for us how much work the media industry has to do to re-examine the definition of “decency”: Because of the long history of purifying or sexualising women’s bodies, it became obvious that there is no room for normal, respectful, positive portrayal of women’s bodies. This is still a fight we have to have on an ongoing basis.
The reality is, when you set out to break taboos and are a pioneer in representations, people aren’t necessarily ready and happy about what you want to do. That’s how you see that it’s still taboo.
And as Susan Sontag said, “Courage is as contagious as fear” – so you need to make sure that the contagion is going in the right way, so that internally stakeholders don’t get cold feed seeing the rejection from media platforms.
The partnership agency / key clients is absolutely key to push with bravery against internal and external fears and launch what the world needs to see.
AME Awards: The success of “Viva La Vulva” was impressive, the campaign challenged the taboos of the category changed how women thought about their bodies. Share the strategy that led to success.
Margaux Revol, & Bridget Angear: We wanted to change the narrative of the intimate care category as we were expanding into it, and it was a double task of re-examining representations within the category but also the wider cultural landscape that was influencing women’s relationships with what was too often a dark corner of their bodies, their minds and their self-esteem.
Intimate care had always been treated as a problem / solution category where white, young, skinny women wearing white clothes would be whispering their relief for having a product for down there. A down-there that was apparently a belly-button that needed serious washing. This had been leaving many women either ashamed to use these products, when not misled about how to use them. It was a dirty secret.
Despite being a new entrant, we had to be the much-needed lighthouse and break the cycle of shame.
The wider landscape was one of a toxic cocktail of prudery (hiding & euphemizing women’s bodies, erasing their genitals from representations) and porn culture (objectifying them and pressuring a “perfect vulva” shape and aspect) which was leaving women ashamed of their own bodies, not having ever seen any other real vulva that could make them realise how diversity is in fact the norm.
All the reports and research we found were consistent: Unless women were exposed to the real diversity of vulvas and encouraged to look at their own vulva, they’d carry on feeding that genital insecurity and dissatisfaction.
And “even in young women with a relatively positive genital self-image, exposure to pictures of a large variety of natural vulvas positively affects genital self-image”. (Journal of Psychosomatic Obstetrics and Gynaecology 2016).
So we’d confront the issue head on: If we were offering products to take care of one’s vulva, we had to show how proud were are of it, and how women should be proud of their own bodies too – showing that the only imperfect vulva is the one that’s censored, ignored and unloved.
This approach would be completely new in our category and very progressive for advertising, but nothing about it would be gratuitous.
AME Awards: What was Libresse’s reaction to the results of the campaign? What results were you most proud of and why?
Margaux Revol, & Bridget Angear: All markets who adopted the campaign said how much they loved being part of it – although they all had to go through the incredibly tough challenge of media platforms regularly taking down their assets, they also saw how the campaign was captivating women’s attention and making them feel valued.
For the Nordics who were launching into new segments, the incredible cut through and word of mouth around the campaign helped their awareness & sales.
What we’re most proud of is not always quantifiable – but when you read comments from women thanking the brand for “finally respecting women” or being able to represent their bodies without sexualizing them, or when you see how in France, the French minister for Gender Equality publicly defended the campaign, you feel proud that this campaign is having a deeper effect on attitudes and self-image.
AME Awards: What is next for Libresse?
Margaux Revol, & Bridget Angear: We’re about to launch a new chapter. All we can say is, we’ve stayed true to our purpose, breaking taboos around intimate issues that hold women back, and true to our way of collaborating with and listening to women’s experiences.