Blood, Sarcasm, Fake CEO (and Social Media) Make For A Perfect Viral Campaign

It’s that time of the month: when a campaign goes viral and everyone is abuzz about the surprising creativity and through-the-roof consumer engagement of an under-the-radar product or news item. There is no escaping this phenomenon, so we might as well embrace and learn from it.

The most recent is Bodyform’s response to a British man named Richard Neill who rants on the company’s Facebook page that the feminine hygiene maker has been lying all these years about the joys of menstruating.  Tongue firmly placed in cheek, he just wanted to point out that his girlfriend is not a joy to be around roughly one week out of every month.

“As a man I must ask why you have lied to us for all these years,” Neill wrote. “As a child I watched your advertisements with interest as to how at this wonderful time of the month that the female gets to enjoy so many things, I felt a little jealous. I mean bike riding, rollercoasters, dancing, parachuting, why couldn’t I get to enjoy this time of joy and ‘blue water’ and wings !! ”

The UK-based maker of Maxipads saw this post (some are saying it planned the post), and responded with a witty, come-clean video in which an actress posing as the Bodyform CEO and clasping a glass off blue water, told Neill that he is indeed correct. All their commercials depicting a wonderful time of month for women are just wrong.

In the 2-minute video, the “CEO” notes: “There’s no such thing as a happy period…” [There’s] the cramps, the mood-swings, the insatiable hunger, and yes, Richard, the blood coursing from our uteri like a crimson landslide.”

More than 80,000 people have “liked” Neill’s post and roughly 2.2 million people viewed Boydform’s video response on YouTube, as of today.  The video campaign was a collaboration of agencies Carat and Rubber Republic and PR firm Myriad. Forbes is touting this campaign as an excellent example of “Brand Improv.”  The power of social media is the major player in this campaign and even if you don’t buy Maxipads,  you must buy into the influence of Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and other sharing sites in moving brands in new directions.

Interestingly, the real head of Maxipads is not a woman, but a man named Magnus Groth, who heads up parent company SCA’s consumer goods products in Europe. It might have been interesting to see Magnus on that video rather than a female actress pretending that the head of the company is a woman, but that is another issue.  And it would get in the way of a good chuckle and outstanding buzz.

People want to laugh. They want to be surprised. They want to discuss taboo topics in the comfort of their social media worlds.  When Kotex took to Pinterest and found out what inspired 50 women whom they deemed to be influencers, they sent the women a customized package of inspirational items (plus one less-inspirational product: a package of Kotex), and asked them to take a photo of the gift, re-pin it to their Pinterest board. And re-pin, post and tweet, they did, in a campaign that has generated nearly 695,000 impressions.

It is refreshing to see these campaigns embraced. They are smart, witty and don’t take themselves too seriously. What will be interesting to watch is if Maxipad and Kotex product sales go up as a result of the generous media coverage and consumer approval. It will also be interesting to see if the relationship between Richard Neill and his girlfriend will last. After all, he called her “the little girl from the exorcist with added venom and extra 360 degree head spin” when she has her period.  Reality show producers, take note.

 – Diane Schwartz

On Twitter: @dianeschwartz