'The Tampon Book,' a subversive attack on unfair tax rates, wins PR Grand Prix at Cannes Lions
“The Tampon Book: A Book Against Tax Discrimination” won the PR Grand Prix at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. To circumvent Germany’s 19 percent luxury tax on feminine hygiene products, The Female Company packaged 15 organic tampons inside a 46-page book, which was taxed at the lower 7 percent rate for daily necessities.
Created by Scholz & Friends in Berlin, the campaign capitalized on momentum seen in countries like Kenya, Canada and India that have abolished higher tax rates for tampons. (In the U.S., rates are set state-by-state.) The first printing of "The Tampon Book" sold out in a day, and the second in a week—spurred by influencers, who were outraged to learn that they were paying a higher tax rate for menstrual products than for items like caviar, flowers, oil paintings and whole truffles.
“We believe that ‘The Tampon Book’ is a great example of modern communications," says PR Jury Chair Michelle Hutton, managing director of global clients at Edelman. “It combines creativity with the craft of public relations.”
The jury was specifically looking for a winner that elevated the practice of public relations, according to Hutton. “We came here knowing this was our opportunity to somewhat reset PR at the festival,” she says. “PR is not a channel—it is a craft, and a craft that matters more today to businesses and brands and society.”
“The Tampon Book” not only exemplified that position but could serve as an example for future campaigns. “We hope this is perhaps a call to the industry of PR to work closer with the creative community,” Hutton says. “Because when the two crafts go hand in hand, this is the kind of magic that can be produced.”
Hutton and rest of the jury were so mindful of the long-term repercussions of their decisions that they also announced a new initiative in partnership with Cannes Lions. The entire jury pledged to work together for the next year to donate their PR experience to one of the Glass or Sustainable Development Goals winners, which will be announced on Friday. It’s a move the jury wants to become a tradition, Hutton said. “Hopefully we can hand the baton on to next year’s jury.”