Erwan Elmayan, Cajetan Srebot, Mirela Spasova, Twan Wiertz, Justine Senee, the team behind ‘Happy Meno-Day!, won a White Pencil at the 2021 D&AD New Blood Awards – a prize that is considered iconic by many and the ultimate accolade for creative work that makes a real difference in the industry. 

For this year’s D&AD New Blood Awards, The Case for Her teamed up with Refinery29 to write a brief about repositioning menopause. Menopause remains a taboo subject to this day and its absence in mainstream media is detrimental to anyone and everyone going through it, including women, trans men, and non-binary people of all ages. More than just a brief, it was a chance to make a positive impact, which is how we immediately knew we wanted to enter. 

Understanding Menopause

The first step was doing some in-depth research, as our own lack of education on the subject immediately became apparent, and none of us really knew much about menopause. Aside from jokes about hot flushes on TV, we had almost never seen anything menopause depicted in the media. We also realized that we had never talked about menopause to our own mothers either. This gave us a chance to have an open conversation with them and learn about their stories and experiences.

As part of the brief, The Case for Her and Refinery29 hosted a live Q&A with Dr. Jen Gunter author of The Vagina Bible. She was presented to us as a Women’s Health and Sexuality Expert, and we found her opinion on the topic truly enriching. The webinar provided us with a wealth of information: common misconceptions, history, technical terms, etc… One thing in particular that she said led us to a key insight. “Menopause is the point at which 12 months have passed since your last period. That’s it. Afterward, you enter post-menopause.” This got us thinking. If menopause is only one moment, on one specific day, why not celebrate that day?

The Concepting of the Idea

When we started concepting, our objective was to make sure every person that goes through menopause can recognize themselves in the creative ideas and campaign activations (or marketing actions) we would propose. We decided to make each sentence of the ‘Happy Meno-Day!’ song a reaction to real people’s experiences of menopause. We countered quotes like “I fear that the end of my period is the end of being a woman” with “A new period has come, free from your time of the month” and “My body is changing, I don’t like it anymore” with “Sure, you’re no more 18, but damn, still a sex machine”.

But the song was only the campaign’s hook. We wanted the Meno-Day celebration to become a real moment in people’s lives so we had a few more ideas to extend the campaign into a 360 project:

  • The Meno-Day calculator — inspired by the pregnancy due-date calculators — for all women who don’t know the exact date of their Meno-Day 
  •  A “feel-good” Instagram account to bring more concrete content and information. The account will give tips and tricks to prepare for this special day, empowering quotes, self-care advice, and even dietetic recipes for the Meno-Day cake.
  • Partnerships with physical spaces like supermarkets to reach people in their daily life. There, we could install dedicated shelves with decorations, happenings, and festive food.
  • The implementation of new policies to turn Meno-Day into a vacation day for every person experiencing it, in order to make real political change and tackle the lack of menopause awareness at work.
  • Finally, a TikTok Meno-Day dance challenge to reach and educate a new and younger audience.

In short, we wanted the campaign to introduce the menopause transition with fun, positivity, and humor and to make it educational.

The Making of the ‘Happy Meno-Day!’ Song and Video

The music became part of the creative idea rather than an afterthought, playing a crucial role from the beginning. With the lyrics, we wanted to introduce the menopause transition with positivity, humor, and fun – while still making it educational. The catchy melody would make the message sexier, more shareable, and accessible to help raise awareness and demystify the topic. 

One of our creatives, Twan, is part of a band who helped us write and record the ‘Happy Meno-Day!’ song.

“We knew we needed a powerful, female voice to sing the lyrics. We used to play in a previous band with a very talented singer named Elies de Vries, who is now starring in a musical in Vienna. We gave her a call with our request, and she immediately agreed to become the voice of ‘Happy Meno-Day!’ We sent her the instrumental recording of the song together with the lyrics, after which she sent us the full song with her voice on it. We all got goosebumps when we listened to it for the first time.” – Twan

On the design side, our creative team Justine and Erwan worked on giving a visual identity to our ideas.

“It was really important for us to create a visual identity that fits with the music, so we chose colors symbolizing optimism, passion and femininity. Illustrations and animations are also a way to showcase things in a different way, so we could approach and show topics and facts more easily. And not only for the women concerned, but for all their relatives as well. This was a really fun project to work on, and I am really happy that it turned to be such a collaborative project” – Justine

Finally, we submitted our case on March 23rd and were all together on a Zoom call while pressing the button. What a surprise when a few weeks later we received an email saying that we won a Pencil! 

The D&AD New Blood Awards 2021

As you can imagine we were super happy and also very excited to attend the Awards Ceremony! This is the very last step of the competition where we finally find out which pencil we have won and get the jury’s comments on our work. 

That special day came in July and we were quite stressed about receiving the verdict. We stood in a room in anticipation waiting to see our campaign’s name appear on the screen. The jury announced the first prize (Yellow Pencils), the second (Graphite Pencils), and finally the third (Wood Pencils)… this is the one we had!  If I am totally honest, at this time we were happy but we thought “we could have done better.” 

We thought the ceremony was done for us until we heard ‘Happy Meno-Day!’ again, without expecting it… OH MY GOD. The jury just announced that we had won the White Pencil – the special price for “outstanding work that uses the power of creativity to do good in the world.”

We all shouted and jumped for joy while singing the ‘Happy Meno-Day!’ song, which was playing when they presented our work. We were amazingly proud! Huge thanks to The Case for Her and Refinery 29 for their trust and support.

The next step would be launching the ‘Happy Meno-Day!’ campaign in the real world.

To be continued…

Erwan Elmayan, Cajetan Srebot, Mirela Spasova, Twan Wiertz & Justine Senee
+ posts