"Ban the Bland" initiative will use online design submissions as a starting point.
Feminine care brand Kotex is on a mission to eliminate embarrassment from the field it knows best: periods.
To that end, the company has launched a campaign, "Ban the Bland," asking its target audience to design a new line of pads. The new pads will presumably stand in stark contrast to traditional white pads that are reminiscent of an era when feminine care was an uncomfortable or shameful topic.
Participants can access design tools on UbyKotex.com, the site Kotex launched last spring for women 12 to 24 that focuses on female empowerment, honest discussions, and real education on period care.
Kotex is banking that the success of U by Kotex will fuel interest in Ban the Bland and that participants themselves will help with outreach efforts on various social networks.
Kimberly-Clark, Kotex's parent company, launched U by Kotex with support from digital agency Organic.
The site's aim is to essentially subvert the dominant paradigm of maxi pad marketing that can often seem disingenuous, and to turn it into an authentic conversation, says Amy Carvajal, group creative director at Organic.
According to Organic, the initiative has resulted in a 10 percent jump in sales for the brand.
Carvajal describes the initial campaign as "ginormously successful" and says nearly 2.5 million women have taken action to "break the cycle," which is how Kotex describes interaction with the site like sharing videos or posting comments. The figure stands for each interaction, not unique visitors.
"We wanted to keep the momentum going," Carvajal says of launching Ban the Bland on the U by Kotex site.
The first phase of Ban the Bland launched on Monday, April 4. Participants are now able to enter designs for pads, tins (to carry pads) or "inspiration boards" until June 29. They can also upload images of objects, patterns and colors "that move you most" and explain why. The site lists a goal of 2,000 design submissions. As of Monday evening, there were about 130.
The second phase, in which consumers will vote on their favorite designs, will run from August 1 to 24. Kotex hopes girls will use social networks to drum up support for their designs – or for their favorites.
Winners will work with fashion stylist Patricia Field - best known for her work on Sex and the City, Ugly Betty and The Devil Wears Prada - to create a new line of feminine care products.
Melissa Sexton, integrated marketing planning director of adult feminine care brands at Kimberly-Clark, says the company opted to work with Field because of her mentoring efforts and support of young women. It was not clear if Field will use her own Twitter handle (which has 4,000 followers) to promote the campaign, but Sexton says Field was on tour in New York to promote Ban the Bland and has designed a limited edition carrying tin that will be available in July.
But Kotex may not need Field's help on Twitter.
According to Caravajal, consumers have been a driving force in promoting the campaign by sharing content on various social networks. One video on UbyKotex's YouTube channel has over 1.2 million views; several others have well over 100,000.
"We've been really fortunate to have the girls passing content along, creating their own ads and spoofs and stamping out bad period ads. The girls have been doing a lot of outreach for us," she says.
U by Kotex has 23,000 Facebook fans and 650 followers on Twitter.
In addition to ClickZ and Search Engine Watch, Lisa's work has appeared in The Huffington Post, The Luxury Spot, LearnVest, MarthaStewart.com, GoodHousekeeping.com, amNewYork, and The Wall Street Journal. She's a graduate of Columbia's School of Journalism.
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