To raise awareness about the lack of access to period products in public restrooms, PERIOD, a non-profit organisation focused on ending period poverty, partnered with Huge, a global experience agency to build a coin-operated toilet paper dispenser. They installed the machine in a men’s restroom as a one-day activation and filmed a video to generate conversation online about pad and tampon accessibility in public restrooms. PERIOD launched the advocacy video on their website and social channels on International Women’s Day (March 8th, 2020).
Toilet paper is an essential human need, and it's free in public restrooms. But for 50% of the population, an equally critical item is missing: tampons. And in the rare case they are available, they usually cost money. To make matters worse, they’re dispensed from archaic, coin-operated pad and tampon machines that are rarely stocked and usually broken. To drive a parallel to these antiquated machines, the toilet paper dispenser was designed to function like a pad and tampon dispenser and even features a coin-slot.Nadya Okamoto, the 22-year-old founder of PERIOD says: “If you walked into a bathroom and there was no toilet paper, you’d be really frustrated. Menstruation is just as natural and can come just as unexpectedly. We are fighting for freely accessible period products in schools, shelters, and prisons - because menstrual hygiene is a right and not a privilege.”
But the toilet paper dispenser offers one additional feature: a tweet-to-dispense alternative, in which men without coins can dispense the toilet paper by opting to tweet a message about period equality using #FreeThePeriod. The act of tweeting is an empathy play and is meant to echo how women feel when they need to ask strangers for tampons.
"Last year, we built Hooha, a smart tampon dispenser you can text for a free tampon, which helped start a conversation about tampon accessibility in public restrooms. This year, we wanted to drive the point home, so we partnered with PERIOD to recreate the experience of what it feels like when you’re asked to pay for a basic human need with an obsolete form of payment," said Steph Loffredo, Hooha founder and associate director of social marketing at Huge.
The video launch is supported by a social media challenge that encourages users to join the conversation and address the need for free period products in all public restrooms. Users will be asked to share a bathroom selfie calling out schools, workplaces, and businesses where period products are not offered as a way to address the problem and demand change. Users are prompted to nominate three friends to join the fight and share their own bathroom selfie. Everyone is encouraged to tag the location, #FreeThePeriod, and @periodmovement in their posts.