Even the committed feminists in the offices of eatbigfish (which I hope I can say, is 100% of the office) have got a little bit cynical about the rise of ‘femvertising’ over the last couple of years - brands jumping on the 'purpose' bandwagon promising to empower 51% of the population just that little bit more and explain why we, the little women, can do all the things the big bad men can, as long as our hair remains silky shiny smooth of course.
So it felt like a breath of fresh air when Thinx, the new kid on the block when it comes to everyone’s favourite empowering category – feminine hygiene – rocked up with their un-patronising, intriguing, high fashion aesthetic ads in October of last year.
Gifted an old fashioned controversy by the NYC subway department, who initially banned the ads for what they considered inappropriate imagery, Thinx got wide (and hugely supportive) international mainstream press coverage and got our attention – precisely what a new challenger needs to make an impact.
But there’s more to it than a clever ad campaign. Named one of TIME's "25 Best Inventions of 2015" Thinx are introducing an entirely new product to the category – period underwear, designed to replace tampons and pads and therefore eliminate the associated landfill waste (each year 12 billion pads and 7 million tampons are dumped into U.S. landfills alone).
Like all true challengers, they are guided and driven by a clear, bold and broader ambition – to break the taboo around menstruation. The business is built on a buy-one-give-one model, for each purchase they donate to AFRIpads, a charity working to make sure that girls in the developing don’t have to miss school because of their periods, and they publicly support and campaign for ‘women’s issues’ like the tampon tax, reproductive rights and trans issues.
In the year ahead they have a massive job building on their press coverage by educating the consumer and encouraging trial, but we think they have got the tone and strategy spot on so far.
For radical transparency.
For killing email with kindness.
For figuring out how to be both global and local.
For setting a new standard for 'Challenger Banks'.
For making Amazon's weak spot a competive advantage.
For promising to make Apple look small time.
For breaking the taboo around menstruation.
For paving the way for a new generation of belief-led brands.
For a fresh toke - sorry take, on the cannabis category.
For taking the showroom concept to another level.
For bringing color and advance to not-drinking.
For creating a financial platform to one day rival Wall Street.
For 'Drink no Evil' and sticking it to Coke.
For at least attempting to get some of us off the grid.
For standing up to the UK's Big 6 Energy firms.
For being anti-antivirus.
For giving Uber a bloody nose in 2016. (We hope...)
For flipping the rules of dating.
For elegantly positioning cable as a thing of the past.
For being the 'Real & Human' challenger in FMCGs.
Helen is eatbigfish's chief cynic, secret idealist and reluctant entrepreneur. She can mostly be found drinking wine and eating crisps in East London pubs.