Behind TENA and AMV BBDO’s groundbreaking menopause campaign

The #LastLonelyMenopause campaign from TENA and AMV BBDO marks a step change in the portrayal of menopause, but there is still more to do

Georgie Moreton

Deputy Editor, BITE Creativebrief


The groundbreaking #LastLonelyMenopause campaign from AMV BBDO for TENA brings the lived experience of the menopause to life on screens through an intergenerational lens that explores the parallels between menopause and puberty. Not only has it smashed stereotypes and triggered much needed conversations, the groundbreaking work has also been awarded Channel 4’s Diversity in Advertising Award, which this year focused on rewarding campaigns that challenge ageism in advertising.

The campaign sparked fresh conversations about the menopause, breaking the taboo that still surrounds the perfectly natural process of women ageing. To amplify this conversation further, AMV BBDO hosted a panel discussion to ask the ‘Infrequently Asked Questions’ which surround the menopause; in relation to both the creative work and the workplace.  

Margaux Revol, Strategy Partner at AMV BBDO was joined by Steven Lacey, Managing Director and Owner at The Outsiders; Meta Redstedt, Global Brand and Communications Director at TENA; Amy Jenkins, Senior Commercial Development Lead at Channel 4; Laura Shuckburgh, Menopause Coach at Marvellous Midlife; and Nicola Kemp, Editorial Director at Creativebrief. 

The advertising industry falls short when it comes to representing older women on screen. When it comes to the menopause, the industry defaults to lazy shortcuts and damaging stereotypes and we rarely see a real, let alone flattering, portrayal.

Channel 4’s ‘Mirror on the Industry’ diversity audit found that just 25% of ads feature someone over 50, 5% feature someone over 59 and these figures drop even further when we look at women only. Redstedt raised the point that when “80% of disposable income sits with over 50s”, brands that fail to represent older women are not only contributing to anti-aging discourse, but are missing a huge commercial opportunity. 

The stark need for #TheLastLonelyMenopause is evidenced by the fact that “92% of women entering this life stage feel completely unprepared for the menopause” explained Redstedt. She added: “There are around 23 symptoms that most women are unaware of. With the Last Lonely Menopause we set out on a mission to challenge misconceptions and make menopause a talked about topic, encouraging intergenerational conversations - the only way to break stimgas.”

This builds on TENA’s research which shows that 51% of women over 50 now think it essential that we change perceptions of ageing in the media.

92% of women entering this life stage feel completely unprepared for the menopause

Meta Redstedt, Global Brand and Communications Director at TENA

Menopause Coach Laura Shuckburgh outlined a range of the myriad symptoms of menopause. There are physical symptoms that people are more aware of such as joint pain, change in body odour, slower cognitive skills, bouts of anger, itchy skin and vocal changes. And, as she shared, there are also  “lesser known symptoms that aren’t just physical: panic attacks, anxiety, word blindness, loss of confidence, heart palpitations. They are invisible but just as real.” And the need to raise awareness around these symptoms is crucial as the impact they have on women in their daily and working lives can be huge.

Shuckburgh explained that when she first went into menopause she “became very anxious, it knocked my confidence and affected my work”. And she isn’t alone, 1 in 3 women skip work due to menopause symptoms. “Menopause can be scary but it’s also a time of amazing change, revelation and new mojo,” she added Acceptance is a huge thing, as while symptoms can be tough, the menopause is a part of life that all women go through and emerge through the other side of with a breadth of new experience and understanding.

Menopause can be scary but it’s also a time of amazing change, revelation and new mojo

Laura Shuckburgh, Menopause Coach

Revol made reference to “the collective squeamishness around the menopause and around women ageing more broadly.” But cutting through these stereotypes and actively listening to real women was key to the strategy. The team addressed the perceived fear surrounding incontinence. As Revol explained: “You might think, fair enough - who wants to “be” or “become incontinent”? But what we found is that this rejection, this fear, this disgust isn’t just an issue about incontinence that gets in the way of recruiting people who actually need the products - it’s an issue about how women are made to reject, fear and be disgusted by the idea of becoming older themselves.” For this reason, the ad set out to humanise the menopause shining a light on the highs, lows, positives and negatives and tackling the stigma when it comes to ageing.

For this repositioning, the team considered the existing narratives around the menopause and knew they had to be turned on their heads. Lacey explained that “when we spoke to women they talk about the physical effects and emotional impact and they are all different. We asked them to write a Birthday card to the menopause, some told it to F off but others said ‘i won't be broken’ The second group was much more accepting and this came down to two things, knowledge and solidarity - having a supportive network, that fed into the knowledge.”

Building up this network and encouraging conversation was central to #TheLastLonelyMenopause narrative which focuses on the relationship between a mother and daughter. A relationship that can often be complex but aided by greater understanding. Revol shared that “My relationship with my mum was complex as she suffered from severe depression for years, but working on Essity (Libresse and Tena) and reading so much about women’s bodies throughout their lives helped me gain some understanding about what she might have been going through at certain times of her life.” 

The Amy Schumer skit, “Last F**kable Day”, was referenced by Revol as a humorous yet telling example of how women's ageing is shown to be a cliff, the narrative needs to be changed to show that instead it is far more cyclical; you get back to who you are. 

Shuckburgh adds that to “Keep women in work we need to allow them to talk honestly, with authenticity and using humour but not derogatory language”. Changing the discourse and the negative rhetoric around ageing not only helps tackle medical misogyny but ensures women are supported throughout their personal and working lives.

The #LastLonelyMenopause campaign is a compelling example of work that shatters stereotypes and is making a powerful impact in increasing true representation and telling women's stories.