More than 800 million people menstruate daily. Sadly, not all of these people can afford to buy sanitary products to protect themselves from having a very unpleasant experience. When you add this issue to the fact that some societies think of menstruation as ritually unclean and embarrassing, you get period shame. However, that’s not the biggest issue. What is making headlines is period poverty, which means lack of access to sanitary products, menstrual hygiene education, toilets, handwashing facilities, and, or, waste management.

However absurd it may sound in the 21st century, there are millions of girls who are forced to use leaves, newspapers, and even sand to protect themselves during ‘their time of the month’. Many of them skip school so that they can avoid embarrassing situations.

This needs to stop, PERIOD. a non-profit organization whose mission is to eliminate period poverty and stigma around menstruation through advocacy, education, and offering supporting service. Founded in 2014 by Nadya Okamoto, who is currently a junior at Harvard, the NGO has released a new PSA that coincides with National Period Day, celebrated October 19.

Created by BBDO San Francisco and sponsored by Seventh Generation, the PSA aims to find out what would people do if instead of menstruating, they would bleed through noses. What would others do in such a case?

What starts as a familiar PSA with people speaking passionately facing the camera, takes an unusual turn. All of a sudden, the protagonists start bleeding. Why? Well, the San-Francisco-based agency concluded that people respond dramatically to blood. When they can see it, though. Because, when the blood is out of our sight, hidden, we tend to ignore it. So, in order to point out that not having sanitary pads and tampons means some girls are forced to skip school or job, the NGO has come up with a ‘bloody’ plan.

“Society might be getting ever-so-slightly more comfortable acknowledging that periods exist, but until we’re ok with women free-bleeding in the streets, we better work harder to make pads and tampons accessible to all,” said Kate Catalinac, Creative Director at BBDO San Francisco.

During the National Period Day, many activists gathered to raise awareness around period poverty, asking for easier access to period products and inviting the authorities to end the luxury taxes that burden menstrual products. As we speak, 35 states in the US still consider these items a luxury, whilst men’s products, such as Viagra, are considered essential goods. Now, where’s the justice, considering that a woman spends around $11,000 on tampons in her lifetime?

Being a woman shouldn’t be a luxury. And that’s not an issue only in the US, but in Germany also. Only there, The Female Company found a loophole and decided to sell tampons in the form of a book, therefore tricking the system to sell sanitary pads at a lower price. Because, yes, this is the world we live in: We need to be sneaky if we want to live a ‘normal’ life…


Client: PERIOD

Agency: BBDO San Francisco