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This is not a sanitary pad

In 1928, Belgian surrealist painter Rene Magritte painted a pipe. Below it, he painted, "Ceci n'est pas une pipe." (French for "This is not a pipe.") "The famous pipe. How people reproached me for it!" he later said. "And yet, could you stuff the pipe? No, it's just a representation... So if I'd written, 'This is a pipe', I'd have been lying!"

M&C Saatchi Abel uses this style of self-referential cleverness in its impactful ad in support of the Dischem Foundation’s One Million Comforts campaign.

“This is not a sanitary pad,” the print ad reads matter-of-factly, “but that won’t stop 1.2 million women from using it as one.”

Here’s how the concept emerged: A team of female interns was researching the sanitary care category and stumbled across the One Million Comforts Initiative, intended to facilitate the free distribution of donated sanitary pads to girls in need.

Their reading revealed that, in the absence of sanitary towels, females in rural areas often resort to using newspapers, rags and towels when they are menstruating. Girls also miss up to 50 days of school per year because they lack adequate protection.

What better way, thought the team, to awaken readers to the unpleasant and often embarrassing reality of this widespread situation, than by drawing attention to the very medium they’re holding in their hands: the newspaper.

The aim is to drive the public to donate over one million sanitary towels between mid-September and mid-October 2016, via drop-bins in 88 Dischem stores countrywide.

Bridget Johnson, creative partner at M&C Saatchi Abel Gauteng, elaborates, “Our interns were struck by the scale of the problem in South Africa. They couldn’t believe that, in this day and age, with technology and everything the world has overcome, there are still girls who miss school because they can’t get what they need to deal with monthly menstruation. They were moved to help.”

13 Sep 2016 13:47

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