Bayer 'sees red' in taboo-busting campaign for heavy menstrual bleeding

Bayer Pharmaceuticals is using a not so subtle approach in showing how women can take control of heavy menstrual bleeding (HMB) in its new campaign "Seeing Red" for intrauterine device Mirena.

In addition to the original indication of contraception, Mirena is the first IUD approved by the FDA to control HMB, also known as menorrhagia, which is not just an annoyance but a medical condition.

The lighthearted spot shows women embracing the color red in clothes, playground slides, jewelry and decor and its obvious connection to menstrual blood (the dripping paint brush is especially evocative).

“What's inspiring this campaign is to really move away from this idea that topics that are particularly relevant to women and young women should be taboo,” said Yesmean Wahdan, M.D., vice president U.S. medical affairs, women’s healthcare, at Bayer in an interview with Fierce Pharma Marketing. 

“HMB are heavy periods that impact 1 in 3 women here in the U.S., and 51% of these women think this heavy bleeding is just a thing. If they're in that mindset … they wouldn't even dream of bringing it up, then that prevents them from taking the step forward to seek education, awareness and care, to seek those options that actually can address it.”

A normal period should last about four to five days with an average blood loss of two to four tablespoons. A heavy period can go for over a week and involve more than six tablespoons of blood loss. Bayer currently markets IUD Mirena for HMB, a device that can help stop the condition for up to five years.

The national multichannel Seeing Red campaign features the commercial, which can also be found on the Seeing Red homepage. The campaign can be found on YouTube, Instagram, Facebook and TikTok.

Bayer is also partnering with Betches Media, an irreverent and saucy women’s culture brand featuring newsletters, podcast ads and Instagram content. There are also partnerships with influencers in OB-GYN, travel and lifestyle talking about why they use Mirena. The campaign launched this month to celebrate Women’s Health Month, and more elements will be rolling out into summer.

The sales team inside Bayer is also invested in the project.

“About half of our organization has been here since the launch of Mirena. People love what they do,” John Berrios, senior vice president and general manager, women’s healthcare U.S., at Bayer added in an interview. 

“When they heard that we were going to finally get into having this important conversation with not only consumers,  they said ‘what can we do with our healthcare providers?’ They came up with different ideas, including to wear red scrubs instead of wearing just what they wear every day and having buttons that say ‘ask me why I'm wearing red,’ really getting into conversations with people around this really important topic.”

Bayer has been in the women's healthcare space for over 61 years and launched the first birth control pill. The pharma’s women’s health business also makes three of the most popular IUDs—Mirena, Skyla and Kyleena—among other contraception products.