Whisper continues to address the missing chapter in young girls' lives

Akhil Meshram, senior director, category leader - feminine care, Indian Subcontinent, Procter & Gamble, explains how the campaign has evolved

Mar 02, 2022 04:04:00 AM | Video | Campaign India Team

Whisper has launched the third film part of its #KeepGirlsInSchool initiative. 
 
Conceptualised by Leo Burnett, the film titled 'The Missing Chapter' is set in a girls school. It shows a group of girls passing around a mysterious slip of red paper. The paper is passed around in classrooms, corridors, bathrooms, and during the school assembly as well. During the assembly, one of the girls is caught with the paper in her possession and is demanded to step forward and declare its contents. At this point, it’s revealed to the audience that the paper actually contains information pertaining to periods. The girls are educating themselves about menstrual health due to the absence of educational materials relating to the same. 
 
We caught up with Akhil Meshram, senior director, category leader feminine care, Indian Subcontinent, Procter & Gamble, to learn more about the campaign.
 
This is the third edition of the campaign. What are the learnings from the first and second editions?
 
Whisper began the journey to normalise menstruation in India more than 25 years ago; at the time the number of women using hygienic sanitary protection was less than 1 crore. Today, this number is 10X that and continues to grow. This is testament that more girls and women are moving towards increasingly hygienic products.
 
However, this change has not been as natural as you might think. 
 
The conversations that we witness on periods, that appear so obvious and upfront today, were a huge challenge not so long ago. This change has taken shape because of the wide-ranging efforts behind normalising periods. While as the market leader, Whisper has been at the forefront of this effort for the last many, many years. We feel driving this change is our responsibility and we are proud to have leading change and acting as a force for good. This thought gave rise to the #KeepGirlsInSchool movement. Before this movement, our efforts were focused towards creating awareness about menstrual hygiene management, now we are also looking at other far-reaching issues to ensure a girl stays in school and doesn’t drop out when she reaches puberty.
 
Through our work across these years and specifically the last two editions of this movement, we have come to realise the importance of not only raising awareness through our effort but also a comprehensive period module in the larger education system, which helps any girl understand the importance of menstrual hygiene and not look at periods as taboo or a barrier. This year of #KeepGirlsInSchool looks at us taking the bar significantly higher through starting a conversation no one has before.
 
Are we seeing an improvement in terms of awareness about menstrual hygiene and periods?
 
We are definitely seeing an improvement about menstrual hygiene and period education though our educational and awareness initiatives across regions. This awareness is also now being passed down from generation to generation, leading to an overall improvement in period awareness. In some parts of the country, we are seeing a lot more conversation about menstrual hygiene and periods than we were 10 years ago. 
 
Our core message from the perspective of awareness is to ensure 100% penetration of menstrual hygiene management and knowledge of period education amongst masses because we believe it is extremely it is important that everyone is educated about the fundamentals of menstrual health and hygiene to keep themselves and the young girls around them healthy during their periods.
 
When launched in 2020, the brand was aiming to reach out to five crore girls by 2022 and educate them about menstrual hygiene. Has this been achieved?
 
As mentioned before, the core focus of this movement has been on increasing awareness and adoption of quality menstrual hygiene. We are proud that our pledge to extend the reach of our menstrual health and hygiene program to educate over five crore adolescent girls about menstrual hygiene by 2022 has been achieved by a hundred percent and just a bit more. 
 
That said, we also recognise the havoc played by the pandemic in making schools go online, thereby putting future of more than 1 crore girls who don’t have access to online medium of education, in lurch. We are committed towards making sure of bringing period education to every girl, so that no dream is left unfulfilled. 
 
What are the methods you'll be using to spread the keep girls in school message?
 
While the Missing Chapter film went live on 1 March 2022, that’s just a part of our activation towards spreading the message of keeping girls in school and building more conversation around period education in our country. We are also working towards a couple of approaches in ensuring we target a 360-degree outreach, right from a targeted influencer outreach campaign, to paid partnerships to drive impact messaging. We are also looking at two innovations to guarantee a wholesome impact from our messaging:
 
We have commissioned 25 wall-art paintings in five regional art forms to bring out the message of the Missing Chapter in the popular local art of the region. This rendition talks about the contents of the missing chapter, combined with regional art elements to create a visually pleasing visual, which speaks of something important and impactful
 
As part of giving consumers a chance to contribute, we have introduced 11,000 limited run packs, whose cover, featuring Bhumi Pednekar, can be passed on to young girls to help them understand what periods are and how to use a pad. These limited packs will be available to purchase on Flipkart through the month of March
 
Adding on to driving awareness, we are also releasing The Missing Chapter filter on Instagram – which will enable users to increase conversation around the issue at hand
 
The brief given to Leo Burnett?
 
We wanted a film that just like the previous editions, moves the viewer and helps them understand the importance of the 'missing chapter'. The idea was to ensure that the film showcases the importance of period education in our country, while debunking the taboo of conversations on period simultaneously.