Libresse’s #painstories campaign lifts the lid on endometriosis

The new social-first campaign includes visceral artworks, a Pain Dictionary and a virtual exhibition displayed in a specially created Pain Museum

The new #painstories campaign from Libresse (known as Bodyform in the UK) delves into endometriosis, a little discussed – and often undermined – condition where tissue similar to the lining of the womb starts to grow in other places, including the ovaries and fallopian tubes, causing great pain. It affects one in ten women in the UK.

Created by AMV BBDO, the #painstories campaign aims to drive awareness and speed up the 7.5 years on average that it currently takes to diagnose the condition, on account of severe period pain being normalised and a lack of seriousness around the subject.

The campaign was informed by a report led by Libresse on the realities of the ‘gender pain gap’ around the world, which examined silence and taboos in relation to women’s pain, the experiences of trans and non-binary people, and the cultural and institutional handling of pain.

A Pain Dictionary has been created for the campaign in a bid to explain and contextualise the pain caused by the condition, which despite affecting one in ten women in the UK, still remains hard to quantify or register on a pain scale.

The concept was sparked by AMV BBDO creative Augustine Cerf’s personal experiences with the condition: “The Pain Dictionary was born out of my own experience of struggling to find language to express my endometriosis pain. I hope that people in pain might identify with the pain depictions and recognise their own pain in them, which could accelerate diagnosis.”

“We know that 176 million women globally have endometriosis, and we need a language to help them articulate their experiences so they can get the help they need,” says Tanja Grubner of Essity, which owns Libresse. “Through definitions, conversation and exposure, we hope to help women tell their #painstories, to raise awareness for endometriosis and other painful pelvic conditions. We want this initiative to help those who are experiencing similar things yet struggling to make their voice heard.”

The definitions are derived from real descriptions given by endometriosis sufferers, which have been brought to live with visceral artworks by creators including illustrator Venus Libido and textile artist Ellie Pearce, who both suffer from the condition.

Accompanying the campaign is a virtual exhibition hosted by the specially created Pain Museum – the first of its kind, according to the agency – where the artworks will be on display, and both sufferers and experts will be giving interviews around the condition.

Considering the long history of advertisers opting to sugarcoat women’s health and represent period blood with unoffensive blue liquid (which, it turns out, is actually quite offensive), the unashamed palette of rich reds and fleshy pinks used throughout the campaign is refreshing.

The campaign is an offshoot of the Libresse’s #wombstories campaign, and follows the brand’s ongoing commitment to breaking down whispered taboos when it comes to everything from periods to vulvas.

Agency: AMV BBDO
CCO: Alex Grieve
ECDs: Nadja Lossgott, Nicholas Hulley
Creative Directors: Toby Allen, Jim Hilson, Nadja Lossgott, Nicholas Hulley
Creatives: Augustine Cerf, Lauren Peters, Mario Kerkstra, Jack Donovan