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Advertisement Watchdog Praises Sanitary Towel Ad For Showing Menstrual Blood

Adverts which were the first to depict menstrual blood on Australian television did not breach viewing standards, according to the country's regulators.

The ads – run by sanitary pad brand Libra – aired last month on Australian television and saw some 600 complaints made by viewers – the highest number for any advertisement in 2019.

However, Australia's industry regulator dismissed the complaints as antiquated, finding that the piece did not break any section of the advertising Code of Ethics.

The group even praised the ad – which showed a young girl removing a blood-stained pad from her underwear and a close-up shot of a woman in the shower, showing blood and water running down her legs – for destigmatising menstruation and deconstructing misogynistic taboos. 

According to the BBC, Ad Standards said the campaign was seen to be "promoting equality and the de-mystification of menstruation".

Dr Elizabeth Farrell, medical director of women's healthcare service Jean Hailes, said the idea that when a woman is menstruating, she is tainted, or should feel embarrassed when she is having her period, is centuries old, and "absolutely ridiculous".

"It seems as if there is still a little bit of that attitude prevailing," she said.

In response to the complaints, Asaleo Care – which makes Libra sanitary pads – launched the #bloodnormal campaign to tackle the unrealistic depiction of menstruating women and the aversion to showing blood as a red liquid in favour of the typical blue substance often shown in ads for pads.

According to the company's research, three out of four Australian women say there is a greater stigma attached to periods than there is drugs or STIs, and a further eight out of 10 women go to great lengths to hide their periods.

Most alarmingly, their research revealed that 70 per cent of young Australian women would rather fail a class than have their peers know they are having their period.

Six years earlier, feminine hygiene company Always became the first company to feature an advert with a red dot on a maxi pad.

An intern at the firm's advertising agency, Leo Brown, came up with the idea and the campaign was run in 2011.

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