Blood, Sweat and Bravery: How AMV BBDO and Essity Shaped Each Other

Enduring client-agency relationships are a rarity in advertising. Between 1987 and 2020, the average length of these partnerships has steadily declined from seven years to less than three, according to The Bedford Group.

Consumer care brand Essity, owner of Libresse, Bodyform, Tena and Knix, has bucked this trend alongside Omnicom-owned creative agency AMV BBDO, with 2024 marking the duo’s 10-year anniversary.

Over the course of a decade, the Essity-AMV BBDO collaboration has yielded taboo-busting work in categories from menstrual care to incontinence. The relationship even encouraged Essity to hold up a mirror to its core business values, pivoting its corporate purpose to “breaking barriers” in the health and hygiene category.

“These past 10 years have given us a very high level of trust,” Tuomas Yrjölä, president of global brand, innovation and sustainability at Essity, told Adweek. “There’s a clarity between us both, a shared language and a shared vision on the importance of brand purpose and breaking barriers.”

He added: “All that drives speed and efficiency, we don’t need to debate or start all over again each time it comes to deciding on a strategy. We can focus all our efforts on pushing for great creative work.”  

Packet of Libresse next to an open sanitary pad and a hand pouring blood on the pad.
“Blood Normal” was the first sanitary product ad to show real blood in the U.K.Essity/AMV BBDO

Beyond helping the business define its core purpose, Essity and AMV’s longstanding relationship has yielded other fruit, including a sales bump. In Q3 of 2023, the business reported a net sales increase of 8.5% to $3.9 billion. It’s also bulked up AMV’s trophy cabinet, with consistent accolades for the pair at awards shows including Cannes Lions, D&AD and the Clios.

In an industry increasingly preoccupied with short-termism and project work in favor of the traditional AOR model, AMV BBDO and Essity’s relationship offers a window into what can happen when brands and agencies stick things out.

Making ‘Blood Normal’

The best known stigma-shattering work from the duo came in 2017 with “Blood Normal,” a campaign for sanitary brand Libresse (known as Bodyform in the U.K.), which switched out blue liquid for real period blood.

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