Libresse: Wombstories commercial

This epic spot for Libresse addresses the complex relationship women have with their wombs over a lifetime. It is the most awarded work in the Annual 2021. Words: Rebecca Fulleylove

Libresse, known as Bodyform in the UK, is renowned for creating taboo-breaking campaigns. In 2017 it made headlines with Blood Normal, the first period product ad to feature a red-coloured fluid, and in 2018 its Viva La Vulva spot cleaned up at the awards circuit. So it comes as no surprise that its 2020 campaign film set out to go where no other brand has gone before: inside the womb. 

Wombstories tells of the emotionally complex, bittersweet relationship women can have with their bodies, and aims to present the pain, the pleasure, the good and the bad when it comes to the womb. Most importantly, though, the film is a rallying cry against the damaging narrative that girls are taught about their bodies from a young age.

For the team at AMV BBDO, it was important to put an end to the ongoing myth that women’s bodies shouldn’t be talked about in all their complexity. “Everywhere we looked, society and culture were projecting and reinforcing the same single, simplistic journey of womanhood: get your periods in adolescence, have more periods, have a tiny amount of pain, have babies, more periods, then quietly retire,” say Nadja Lossgott and Nicholas Hulley, the executive creative directors who worked on the campaign. “It makes any person with any other experience that deviates from this narrative – like someone who has no intention of having children – feel abnormal or weird.”

To articulate the reality, the film anthropomorphises the womb, and from talking to real people about their experiences, six interweaving storylines have been captured in live action and animation. “We wanted to use animation to think of the womb as an emotional place full of stories – not just functional or logical biology,” say Lossgott and Hulley. “We also wanted to create a clear distinction between people and their anthropomorphic womb, so the viewer would be able to weave their way through and navigate the complexity of stories.”

Directed by award-winning Nisha Ganatra, an all-women team of animators were brought in to imagine the womb worlds, including Haein Kim, Carine Khalife, Salla Lehmus at Soja, Roos Mattaar, Kate Isobel Scott, and Laura Jayne Hodkin. From stop-frame, cell animation to hand-painted techniques, the six artists created a rich tapestry of varying styles that emulate each story in an intimate, authentic and visceral way. 

“Thinking of your womb being controlled by a lazy asshole of a being, or by a war of flame-throwers, seemed way more fun and entertaining as animation,” explain Lossgott and Hulley. “There was a poignancy in mimicking the feeling of a little gardener trying so hard to tend to a lush, beautiful garden and growing a stunning plant, only to have it destroyed by something that was completely out of her control and being left in deafening silence. Just like life.”

Screengrab

Trim Editing helped weave these stories together and capture the nuance needed. They worked with Lossgott, Hulley, and Ganatra to create something that felt well-paced yet featured the ups and downs of life. “With Nisha dialling in from LA, we chipped away at the edit until it felt like we had a narrative that made sense,” explains Trim editor Elise Butt. 

“We had a constant dialogue with the various animators involved – figuring out the story of the ‘inside’ of each womb and how it would connect to the women. It was pretty heavily storyboarded going into the shoot, but once you start weaving six different scenarios together, the connections and transitions often need a rethink.”

The overall tone of the film was to create a feeling of acceptance. “There’s no right or wrong way of experiencing the journey of being a woman. You might leak a bit of blood when you sneeze on your period, or you might have searing pain from endometriosis,” says Butt. “It is what it is. A very raw and very real roller-coaster, that we wanted to show in all its truthful glory.” 

Intertwining the humour and the sorrow together seamlessly, the campaign had a big impact, with over 100 million views of the film worldwide. Bodyform UK also saw a 200% increase in its social followers as people shared their own journeys with the hashtag #wombstories. 

“Wombstories has sparked a collective catharsis with millions of profound wombstories being awakened, breaking the law of silence, invisibility and shame,” say Lossgott and Hulley. “It has given a voice to those who didn’t have the words, and opens up a whole new dimension of honesty, allowing women to reclaim their bodies and stories with all their glorious complications.”

Categories: Commercials, Branded Content, Advertising Craft (Directing, Animation, Editing); Entered by: AMV BBDO, Trim Editing

Client: Libresse
Global Marketing & Communications Director FemCare: Tanja Grubner
Global Marketing & Communications Director, HHT: Martina Poulopati
Global Brand Communications Manager, FemCare: Luciana 
de Azevedo Lara
Marketing Manager, Bodyform: Traci Baxter
Marketing Director Reg
UKI & EMD Feminine:
Nicola Coronado
Agency: AMV BBDO

CCO: Alex Grieve
ECDs: Nadja Lossott, Nicholas Hulley
Creative Directors:
Toby Allen, Jim Hilson
Creatives: Nadja Lossgott, Nicholas Hulley
Agency TV Producer:
Edwina Dennison
Agency Assistant TV Producer: Lucia Fioravanti
Art Production: Fiona Bailey
Typographer/Designer:
Mario Kerkstra
Account Management:
Sara Abaza, Sarah Hore-
Lacy, Helen Limbrey,
Sarah Douglas
Strategists: Margaux Revol, Beatrice Farmelo,
Bridget Angear
Production Company: Chelsea Pictures
Director: Nisha Ganatra
Production Company Producer: Shanah Blevins
Production Company Executive Producers: Lisa Mehling, Pat McGoldrick
DOP/Lighting Cameraman: Natasha Braier
Editing: Trim Editing
Editor: Elise Butt
Sound Engineer:
Sam Ashwell, 750mph
Music: Priestess Shura Remix by Pumarosa Music
Post Production: Framestore
Creative Director, Animation: Sharon Lock, Framestore
Artists/Animators: Roos Mattar, Kate Isobel Scott, Haein Kim, Carine Khalife, Laura Jayne Hodkin, Salla Lehmus, Annie Wong, Aylin Ohri, Meagan Elemans, Molly Grace Lawton, Georgie Wilemore, Nella Addy
Comp Lead: Tri Do
Compositor: Simon Stoney
Digital Matte Painting: Lee Matthews
Flame: Tim Greenwood
Colourist: Simon Bourne
VFX Producer: Emma Cook
Design Senior Producer: Niamh O’Donohoe
Photographer: Adam Hinton
Other Agencies: Ketchum (PR), Poke (website), Zenith (Media)

JUNIOR GRAPHIC DESIGNER

Milton Keynes