consumer packaged goods

For Kotex, COVID-19 Enriches Purpose-Driven Launch

While Kotex had been readying its 100th- anniversary campaign for some time, the sexual disparities in the COVID-19-charged climate changed it in unexpected ways. Juanita Pelaez, vice president, global adult and feminine care for Kimberly-Clark, explains how harsh new economic statistics from the pandemic enriched the global “She Can” campaign.

Marketing Daily: “She Can” is aimed at pushing back against period stigma and making products more accessible. As you were pulling the program together, the pandemic kept spreading. How did that impact the plan?

Juanita Pelaez: It changed our celebration. First, it really validated our global brand purpose, which is that a period should never get in the way of a woman’s progress.



We’ve all seen that, as the world has focused on COVID-19 for the last 12 weeks or so, the economic impact has been hard on women and girls. More women have lost their jobs than men, and 73% of all healthcare workers, also hard-hit, are women. So we decided to turn what was going to be a celebration into a platform that we hope will help open doors for girls for years to come.

MD: Talk to us about the reduction of period stigma. Why is this so important?

Pelaez: There are 80 million people menstruating every day, and 100 million girls are falling behind in schools because of stigma and lack of products.

Around the world, 743 million girls in 185 countries are out of school right now. We’ve long believed that donating products helps -- it prevents them from missing school. We want to boost self-esteem and end period shaming. We want people to have real conversations about this topic.

MD: How have things changed in recent years?

Pelaez: Marketing these products has always focused more on embarrassment. Even six or seven years ago, it was still all about women wearing white pants, worrying about stains.

Girls today are different. They’re more open. They’re more in sync with the planet, and care about the environment. They’re more into individuality and they have big dreams. They don’t want society to pressure them and tell them what should make them happy. And of course, they’re much more digital.

MD: Many other brands have carved out a place for themselves in this category -- mainstream brands like Always and Tampax, but also many smaller D2C companies. How do you stay true to the brand with an effort like this?

Pelaez: The most important thing to make sure we truly live up to our purpose and that we do it in a Kotex way. We’ve donated more than 20 million products, we support schools. And with this $2.5 million effort, we hope to reach a total of 1.6 million individuals, and help women and girls confidently manage periods. We’ve got our employees active in the cause too.

It doesn’t bother us that other brands are active in this cause, too. The more organizations behind the cause, the more  we can be sure that we actually will make a difference and change the world.

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