Periods, though a natural monthly process for all mature girls and women, is often a very strenuous ordeal for them in many parts of the country. Apart from the pain and fatigue experienced by most girls and women, they are also expected to follow stringent norms (read taboos) during their periods.
They are not allowed to step inside the temple or even touch any idol, no entering the kitchen or touching the drinking water or watering the plants, lest they pollute it with the negative energy they are emanating while on their periods. In some families, the menstruating female member is confined to a separate room, ensuring she does not come into contact with anything or anybody in the family. So deeply ingrained is this in our society, that we tend to ignore it and move on.
But women continue to suffer in their ignorance and inaction, while not having the freedom to choose better for themselves. Whisper, the sanitary napkin brand from P&G is out to restore that freedom in ‘Touch the pickle’ – a campaign designed to bust period taboos.
In a TVC launched last month, the sanitary napkin brand has chosen the most weird period taboo that I didn’t even know existed – girls on periods should not touch pickle jars as that will contaminate the pickle.
The 30-second film shows a girl touching a jar of pickle accidentally, while her grandmother looks on. The girl then touches the jar intentionally while the grandmother smiles on. Encouraged by her grandmother and more of her grandmother’s friends, the film then shows the girl going on to break a few more taboos for girls on their periods. She is seen wearing whites and being active in sports, while the elderly women are cheering for her.
Uploaded on the 15th of July on Whisper India’s YouTube channel, the ad video has already garnered more than 1.8 million views. The ad then leads the viewer to the brand’s Facebook page ‘You go girl India’ where they can join the #TouchThePickle movement. Here girls have been encouraged to share the period taboos they have broken and inspire the world. In addition, the brand has been using the page to spread awareness and facts on these baseless taboos.
A Facebook app has been created for #TouchThePickle where in addition to sharing your own stories of having broken period taboos, one can read through stories shared by others, take a pledge, invite friends, dislike taboos, watch the videos and share status messages with cool emoticons. It also features the ad films made for the campaign, in addition to featuring the Facebook and Twitter stream on what people are talking about the campaign.
Taking part in each of these activities earns you points (can be seen in dashboard). For the video contest, the brand offered a Flipkart shopping voucher worth Rs. 10000 and 200 spa vouchers.
The Twitter page is sharing stats on period taboos while encouraging people to join the movement. In the offline, Whisper India has got actors like Shraddha Kapoor, Kalki Koechlin and Neha Dhupia to lend their support for the movement. It also conducted panel discussions on the subject with the likes of Mandira Bedi, Dr. Suneela Garg and Tanvi Azmi. A live chat was hosted on Twitter where girls could ask their period taboo questions to the doctor.
— Whisper (@WhisperIndia) July 25, 2014
— Whisper (@WhisperIndia) July 16, 2014
Whisper shouts out loud
Women empowerment and education are the most sensitive and topical issues faced in the country. And when a brand takes the initiative to stand up for it, it is bound to go viral. #TouchThePickle is a brilliant campaign by P&G that not only addresses the target consumers’ woes but also makes strong brand advocates out of her. Busting period taboos is an essential component of empowering women and celebrating womenhood – brand values that Whisper stands for.
Roping in celebrities to talk about these taboos and encouraging girls to spread the movement rather than talk about the efficacy of its sanitary napkins, have played a vital role in product promotion. Leveraging social media along with the TVC and the offline initiatives has been a well thought out one, with incentives for spreading the movement.
The campaign has received a widespread welcome from women and can further evolve into a nationwide cause supported by the brand. #TouchThePickle seems to be derived from P&G’s ‘Thank you Mom’ initiative, an emotional positioning that set a global benchmark. Hopefully, it continues to bust period taboos on a global scale.