Kotex captures what threats to women’s progress feel like in striking ad for Women’s Day

The two-minute film from Capital A strikes a defiant tone as it lists what often seems like a growing set of obstacles

Published On
Mar 08, 2024
A woman with dark shoulder-length hair looking serious

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Women are no strangers to being uncomfortable, as the world is not made for them, Kotex says in its International Women’s Day campaign. But progress has many faces, stages and feelings.

Created with creative agency Capital A and Rakish director Jaci Judelson, “#ProgressFeelsLike” depicts the challenges faced by women of all different ages, races and creeds globally as they seek to make social progress. Captured by short, documentary-style vignettes, the two-minute manifesto-style film shows women in uncomfortable scenarios that hinder their growth, including being judged in the workplace by appearance instead of intelligence, being sexually harassed on public transportation or being unable to thrive in school due to lack of access to menstrual products.

The scenes, backdropped by the voice of a single narrator, convey that women continue to face bias related to inequality, their periods and other restrictions. However, the tone shifts toward the end with the message that discomfort does not scare or define women, as there is pride and honor in the fight.


The idea for the film sprang from a 2023 Kotex study that found 60% of women believe the speed of women’s progress is either stagnant or moving slowly, and nearly half believe that the world is a more uncomfortable place for them than ever before, said A.J. Hassan, founder and chief creative officer at Capital A (whose prior work includes a central role on the famous Always “Like a Girl” campaign).

“The ‘Progress Feels Like’ campaign sprang from a truth on our Kotex client’s brief about what women everywhere are facing today, that essentially ‘Progress is no longer a given,’” she told Ad Age. “On its face, it’s something many of us have instinctively felt as of late with the steady stream of headlines making clear women's progress is under threat. Yet even so, the true feeling of it all really hit hard when I saw it stated so plainly on the brief.

“[I wanted] to somehow capture and make visible the reality of what this feels like for women, both intimately and collectively,” she continued. “I went down deep rabbit holes, reading news from global outlets on all the things women are coming up against. It [was] staggering, really, which was also a bit daunting as we imagined how to fully represent so many experiences and feelings and do it well. The script [therefore] speaks through a single voice, but spans continents and touches on a sampling of key issues to help express what feels like an innumerable set of barriers that exist, big and small.”

The goal of the campaign is to illustrate—albeit distilled into two minutes—the frustrations women feel over the repeated attempts to stunt their growth, especially in recent years.

The overarching message is that “we need to make a hard turn in the other direction,” Hassan said.

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To embody this, Capital A and Rakish cast real women from several countries and are releasing the film in nine languages on nearly every continent, primarily on social media and digital channels.

In addition to the hero film, Kotex is encouraging women worldwide to participate in the movement by using #ProgressFeelsLike in social media posts as well as organizing on-the-ground activations.

In the U.S., U by Kotex will donate two period products to Alliance for Period Supplies (APS) from the purchase of any U by Kotex product at Walmart during the month of March. The brand will also donate two additional period products to APS for each reshare of its social media post for International Women’s Day on March 8 to drive awareness of period poverty.

In Brazil, Kotex is launching a digital art festival to visually depict what #ProgressFeelsLike and to celebrate women's achievements, question the stigmas around menstruation and show that women haven't made progress to stop now. 

In Vietnam, Kotex is launching a music video that calls on consumers to submit their thoughts on what #ProgressFeelsLike when it comes to chasing their dreams. The top three winners will receive a $5,000 scholarship to make their dreams a reality. 

Kotex has also formed a new partnership with She’s the First, a nonprofit that fights for a world where every girl can choose her own future. As a part of the partnership, which is an extension of the brand’s She Can Initiative and existing work with Plan International and WASH United, Kotex has pledged to donate funds to support the organization’s mission to make sure girls everywhere are respected, educated and heard.


Mar 08, 2024
Client :
Client :
Agency :
Capital A
Head of Consumer Engagement :
Alexis Rice
Global VP & Sector Leader :
Juanita Pelaez
VP Personal Care & Digital Marketing :
Katie Moran
Sr. Director Global Content Creative & Design :
Sarah Paulsen
Director Global Content Creative & Design :
Katie Nikolaus
Chief Creative Officer :
AJ Hassan
VP Creative Director Art :
Joy Li De Meulemeester
Executive Producer :
Lindsey Brusnighan
Production Company :
Director :
Jaci Judelson
Managing Director / Executive Producer :
Preston Garrett
Executive Producer :
Gabe Reiter
Head of Production :
Heather Weinstock
Head of Sales / Creative Producer :
Chiara Useche
Line Producer :
John Malina
Creative Director :
Spencer Hord
Creative Coordinator :
Annie Colao
International Production Services :
Cake Film Amsterdam
Editorial :
Nomad NYC
Editor :
Amanda Moreau
Assistant Editor :
Matthew Cornelius
Executive Producer :
Julia Williams
Producer :
Nicole Murray
Flame :
Steve Morris
Tasayu Tasnaphun
Color :
King of Birds
Colorist :
Aubrey Woodiwiss
Mix :
Sonic Union
Longform Mix Engineer :
Rob Difondi
Foreign Language Mix Engineer :
Rob McIver
Foreign Language Mix Engineer :
Rob Ballingall
Producer :
Pat Sullivan
Original Music :
Halo Music & Sound
Founder/Creative Director :
Peter Gannon
Music Supervisor & Partner :
Molly Sales
Composer :
Matt McGinley

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