When was the last time you saw the menopause depicted in animation?
Feminine hygiene brand Bodyform has a knack for progressive marketing — in 2017, it released the first ad in the U.K. to show real (i.e. red) period blood — but its new #Wombstories campaign steps things up a gear. Its latest promotional video mixes animation and live action to show aspects of female sexuality and reproduction that are still all too rarely addressed onscreen: miscarriage, menstrual bleeding, endometriosis, the decision not to have children, and more.
Watch the nearly three-and-a-half minute piece below:
The hybrid medium captures the duality of these processes, which are both bodily functions and emotional experiences. While the live-action segments show the women undergoing these pains and pleasures, the animated parts use symbolism to convey something of the subjective reality. Thus, for example, a perimenopausal woman’s suffering becomes a burning apartment.
The result is that rare thing: an ad that’s visually arresting, thematically daring, and effective at conveying its product, all at once. The animation was coordinated by vfx studio Framestore, whose creative director Sharon Lock worked closely with ad agency AMV BBDO and its creative directors Nick & Nadja. The ad was directed by Nisha Ganatra (Transparent), who led a predominantly female production.
Niamh O’Donohoe, a producer at Framestore, said this about the production: “We were telling real stories about the experiences of being a woman, so having the team we did meant we had something of a shorthand. We could easily communicate what we needed because there was a mutual understanding of how these stories had to be presented.”
There are six animated sequences in all, each created by a different team in a different medium (ranging from stop-motion puppetry to paint on glass). The credited animators are: Haein Kim, Carine Khalife, Salla Lehmus at Soja, Roos Mattaar, Kate Isobel Scott at Everyone Agency, Laura Jayne Hodkin at Strange Beast, Annie Wong, Aylin Ohri, Meagan Elemans, Molly Grace Lawton, Georgie Wilemore, Nella Addy.
Bodyform is a U.K. brand; internationally, its sister brand Libresse is better known. Both are owned by Swedish health and hygiene company Essity.