While Bayer’s intimate healthcare brand Canesten is available in Brazil’s consumer market, openly discussing vaginal health is still a social taboo. And the root of this problem is a lack of education, stemming from myths perpetuated by Brazil’s recent abstinence-only sex education policy.
Canesten challenged us to create and roll out a new global brand purpose: to help women to set themselves free from the shame and discomfort caused by intimate infections.
Our objective? To firmly establish this mindset within the next generation of first-time sufferers.
Enter Intensivão da PPK (or Vagina High), the shame-free school on TikTok that comes with a curriculum covering all the ins and outs of vagina health.
And our teachers? An all-star cast of TikTok creators (and masters in the field of intimate health), ready to bring out the facts about our brilliant bodies.
Our research found that 1 in 4 Brazilian women are ashamed to say the word ‘vagina’. But three quarters of women will experience thrush at least once in their life and 60% feel shame when they get it.
In Brazil, vaginal infections are associated with being 'less clean', when, in fact, the exact opposite is the case. Many young people don’t know that infections can be caused by showering with soap two to three times a day during summer, leading to an imbalanced vagina PH.
We wanted to help young people learn the truth about their vaginas and how to keep them healthy. How? By launching a shame-free school that turns vital knowledge of vaginal health into entertaining, fun and educational lessons that spoke to the audience on their level, in a place that they felt comfortable – TikTok.
We built our school on TikTok, the platform where our target audience, aged 16 to 25, hang out the most – 57% of TikTok users in Brazil are females aged 13 to 24 and use it for about 60 minutes per day. Here, we also knew that regardless of circumstances, anyone could access this education.
Our shame-free school has a curriculum that covers all topics relating to vaginal health. The nine interactive lessons and final exam were led by headteacher and pelvic physiotherapist Claudia Milan, body positive advocate Hana Khalil and psychologist and comedian Pequena Lo. They are all credible experts in their field – and bold, engaging and fun. Our influencers were hand-picked based on what they stand for on the platform, from their attitude and their follower types to the way they deliver information – the more entertaining the better.
We designed lessons which specifically targeted Brazilian-specific myths and taboos. For example, the fashion class focused on why wet swimwear could increase your chances of infection. In our media studies lesson, we addressed the alarming static that Brazil is the leading country for labiaplasty procedures worldwide, teaching our audience that ‘normal’ vaginas come in all shapes and sizes.
Our cohort of example students were young, well-known faces on TikTok – followed for being outspoken and confident. They shared their notes in a call-to-arms for followers to learn alongside them.
Intensivão da PPK was launched on TikTok in Brazil in February 2021 and ran for five weeks. The global version, called Vagina Academy, is now live in Italy and will launch in the UK later this year, followed by Australia via several social media platforms, such as Snapchat, Instagram and YouTube, to allow young people easy access to engaging class content and live streamed seminars.
Our school destigmatized vaginas with entertaining lessons designed in collaboration with influencers, with subject matter and tone carefully tailored to each individual. The content engaged the audience on their level, with people they admired and felt comfortable with.
Since its launch, the Intensivão da PPK TikTok channel has driven:
43M video views
210K TikTok channel subscribers (equivalent to filling 17.5K real-world sized classrooms)
1 de-censorship of the word ‘vagina’ on TikTok (vagina health is now a welcomed topic on TikTok – a world-first – after we appealed and won ‘vagina’ de-censorship).
Patricia Corsi, Global Chief Marketing & Digital Officer, Bayer Consumer Health, said: "As a global leading brand in the category, we see it as our responsibility to be an agent of POSITIVE change in pursuit of shame-free intimate health. The launch of Vagina Academy is the first step in our commitment to helping women of all ages and backgrounds to set themselves free from shame. By doing away with shame, bringing in easy and friendly education they will be able to truly understand their bodies, talk more openly about issues, care for themselves better and ultimately live their lives more fully."
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