First Female Olympic Gold Medalist Returns For Period Education


At the 1900 Olympic games in Paris, American-born Swiss sailor Hélène de Pourtalès became the first female to ever win an Olympic Gold medal.

Ahead of the Olympics’ return to Paris this summer, de Pourtalès has also returned. Via AI, she stars in a one-minute film for Procter & Gamble’s Always menstrual protection brand.

Running on digital channels in the UK, the film was created by PGOne and Leo Burnett in partnership with VFX Los Angeles.

This is all on the up-and-up, as Always UK says the films’ creators worked with de Pourtalès’ family “to understand Hélène’s background and personality as well as gather old photographs which were used to recreate her.”



And as for putting words in her mouth, "This is what we imagine that Helene would say if she were alive today, and we worked closely with her family to draft the script,” according to a spokesperson.

As the film opens on a shot of a sailboat in the distance, a female voiceover says, “In 1900, Hélène de Pourtalès became the first female Olympian to win a gold medal.” As: de Pourtalès comes into view, she continues, “A hundred and 24 years later, Always brought her back to see history made again.”

Apparently, de Pourtalès was having her period during the Olympic sailing race, or at least concerned about having it. “I was one of the first to compete and practice my sport at the highest level,” she says in French, with on-screen English translation, “but not the last to play with worry.”

Why?  “Periods weren't acknowledged in sports at the time -- and it's still the same today,” the voiceover continues.

Back to de Pourtalès: “But that was then. An old era. A different time.”

“Always wants to change things, to lift the veil on period anxiety and accept that periods are also part of the game,” says the voiceover. “It’s a new chapter that opens for a new generation of athletes.”

“It’s a new period,” concludes de Pourtalès.

That line makes de Pourtalès a virtual brand ambassador for Always UK’s recently launched “It’s a New Period” campaign, part of P&G’s new emphasis on individual brands in its Olympic marketing.

Always UK backs up its campaign by citing recent research of female UK athletes commissioned by PGOne and conducted by Reputation Leaders, which found 64% of respondents “admitting that they experience period anxiety which puts them off their game and, therefore, affects their ability to move with confidence.”

Also, 79% felt that “more conversation on periods is needed to help break down these barriers for future generations of athletes.”

“It’s a new period” includes “Master your Menstrual Cycle Programme,” a downloadable set of resources designed to educate females on their menstrual cycle and featuring Jazmin Sawyers, Great Britain track star Olympian and brand ambassador, saying “Periods should never throw us off our game.”

“We hope to inspire and empower younger generations to really understand their menstrual cycle so that they can feel more confident navigating their periods both on and off the sporting stage,” says Farah Azmy, brand director, Always UK, in a statement.

Always is the “official period product” of the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic games, with its products – as well as P&G’s Tampax -- to be available in restrooms throughout the Athletes’ Village.

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