Interview: Talking taboo through marketing: How Libresse does it

Since its launch in 2010, Libresse hasn’t stopped challenging societal taboos in Malaysia. The brand believes that girls aren’t born feeling ashamed of their bodies and their intimate areas, but rather they internalise society’s taboos that restrict their confidence in themselves as they age.

According to a recent study by the brand, it found that two out of three women didn’t know enough about their own vulva and vagina. With its latest marketing push, Libresse aimed to challenge that statistic by highlighting that “there is no such thing as a normal-looking vulva”.

For its latest campaign, the brand decided to spark a debate amongst women in Malaysia on the importance of "knowing and loving themselves".

Working with Malaysian-born independent agency Invictus Blue, the taboo-breaking campaign is spearheaded by a new musically charged brand film that draws inspiration from authentic sentiments of Malaysian women - that their vulva needs to look "a certain way". The video celebrates the diversity of the vulva - boldly showcasing diverse shapes, colours, and sizes, in a plethora of artistic forms; accompanied by an original synth-pop anthem by local singer-songwriter Zee Avi; appropriately titled “Celebrate Yourself”.

In a conversation with A+M, Michael Toh (pictured below), VP, commercial Malaysia and Indonesia at Vinda Group SEA said despite its aim to break V-zone taboos, the brand remains mindful of the conservative landscape in Malaysia.

vinda group michael toh

However, it refuses to take its foot off the pedal and aims to continuously engage fans on social media with a three-prong strategy - to learn, to ask and to talk more about female hygiene. Using an influencer-led push, the team also engaged with KOLs to help normalise conversations about the V-zones, wherever possible. Toh said:

The challenge was in creating a campaign that was bold yet tasteful; provocative yet meaningful.

“It had to be true to the mission and personality of the brand, yet relevant to local sentiments. After all, how can you showcase the diversity of the vulva…without showing any? So the team had to get creative,” Toh explained.

As such, the team explored many artistic expressions to allude to the different colours, shapes and sizes of the vulva. The team also created an “Ask Libresse” segment for consumers to ask questions they might be afraid to in real life and would then work with a gynaecologist to provide the answers.

The campaign currently runs on YouTube, Facebook and Instagram and has clocked in almost 2.3 million views on YouTube to date. According to Toh, the brand is constantly trying to break V-zone taboos and this latest campaign will continue running until the next one kicks in. "We will reach women wherever they present themselves in the digital landscape," he said.

A push in digital

Toh also added that currently Libresse’s full budget is geared towards digital channels. Driving eCommerce sales became its main focus and the brand is invested in exploring emerging formats through partnerships with Watsons Live and Shopee Live. During these “Live” sessions, influencers are brought on board to conduct product demos during the sessions.

“We will continue ramping up our presence on digital and eCommerce, so consumers can easily reach our products conveniently, safely and in line with the latest standard operating procedures amidst the pandemic,” he said.

Besides placing an emphasis on eCommerce, the brand also banks big on YouTube and Facebook for reach and impact as the platform is home to its target audience. “Our target audience can all be reached there, and with the right strategic media plans, the impact in views and organic engagement are also most relevant on those two platforms,” Toh said.

To further ensure results on these two platforms, the brand also actively invests in influencer marketing, engages KOLs and celebrities. To date, it has worked with the likes of singer-songwriter Zee Avi and also thought leader and role model to youths Nandini Balakrishnan.

What’s in the works?

While last year the brand invited women to discover their V-zone, this year its focus will be to advocate acceptance by showcasing the diversity of the V-zone, said Toh. He added that period talk is just one part of the conversation – much like how sanitary pads are just one of the many offerings Libresse provides.

“Our brand is all about holistic care for the V; so we know there’s also more we can do to help create a world where women can live the life they want. The objective remains the same: to break V-zone taboos and normalise V-zone conversations,” he said.

This is not the first time Libresse is educating women on their V-zone. Last year, it launched the "Know Your V" campaign in an attempt to influence perceptions by uncovering real situations that women face on a daily basis and portraying it as something natural and worth understanding, instead of it being a source of shame. In 2018, it also sought to educate men and reframe what periods are like in their minds to improve understanding between women and the men in their lives. Titled "Men-struation", the campaign featured a character named "Get Real Bro" who explained periods man to man, sharing educational content videos and tips with men, so they understand what period is like and how they can support them.

Aside from its latest campaign, The brand also recently encouraged females to not be shy about periods by creating the Stationer-V Box, a stationery holder with a main compartment for office stationery and a bottom compartment where emergency pads can be kept securely.

Meanwhile, Toh said it will continue ramping up its presence on digital and eCommerce to allow consumers to reach its products conveniently and safely. Libresse has also launched its Bendera Putih campaign on Facebook to do its part in helping women who are suffering from the prolonged pandemic. 

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