Viral cultural campaigns
This research has presented two case studies of campaigns that went viral or created a buzz after a brand inserted itself into current cultural conversations with creative ideas/one-offs. Through “The Tampon Book", The Female Company protested against Germany's 19% tax on tampons. A group of companies also teamed up to launch the final issue of a magazine that sparked conversations and promoted a progressive and diverse narrative of femininity.
"The Last Ever Issue"
- For 27 years, one of Poland's most read and longest-running adult magazines, Your Weekend, had reduced women to mere sex objects. In December 2018, this magazine was purchased by VMLY&R, MasterCard, Gazeta.pl, and BNP Paribas. The next year (2019), they used this newly purchased company "to challenge the culture of sexism and gender inequality it had contributed to building."
- Together with its partners, VMLY&R Poland "transformed Your Weekend in a conversation-sparking, ground-breaking magazine promoting diverse and progressive narratives of femininity."
- VMLY&R Poland published the last issue on International Women’s Day (March 2019). The regular columns and sections were kept; however, they re-imagined all content around gender portrayal, sexual education, sexism, equal rights and more.
- This served as a "symbolic end of an era and a spectacular beginning for a much-needed national conversation." This campaign did not seek to judge or instruct anyone. The aim of this campaign was to show women's perspective, thereby making people realize that the society we live in is not equal. The campaign targeted middle-class men and sought to ignite a nationwide conversation about this problem.
- The Last Ever Issue campaign was a huge success, organically reaching 4.5 million people and generating 25 million media impressions. Its content also generated more than 500,000 visits to gazeta.pl. Videos and images used during the campaign can be found here and here.
“The Tampon Book"
- A German startup, The Female Company, launched a book titled "The Tampon Book" as a protest against Germany's 19% tax on tampons. While books are taxed at 7% in Germany, the government categorized tampons under “luxury goods”; as a result, the 19% tax was applicable to the item.
- The Female Company, a seller of organic sanitary products, responded to this issue by publishing a book and including tampons inside it. Ann-Sophie Claus, a co-founder of the company, revealed that they came up with the idea for this book after working for over a year to raise awareness of the newly imposed tampon tax. They had collected "more than 175,000 signatures for a petition calling on the government to reduce the levy."
- A total of 15 organic tampons were placed inside the 46-page book. This book was taxed at the 7% rate which applies to daily necessities. The promotional video for this campaign can be found here.
- This campaign was created by Scholz & Friends, capitalizing on the momentum seen in countries like Canada, India, and Kenya that have put an end to higher tax rates for tampons.
- The first printing of this book sold out in a day, while the second printing was sold out in a week. This success was instigated by influencers, who were angered to find out that they were paying higher taxes for menstrual products compared to items like flowers, caviar, and oil paintings.
- After its release, the case film for The Tampon Book "registered more than 10.5 million views on YouTube, Facebook and Instagram." Also, mainstream media outlets like ProSieben/Sat.1 and RTL also took up the story.
- Cross-regional newspapers such as the F.A.Z. featured this story. Also, "nearly all German-speaking feminist-oriented blogs reported on The Tampon Book."