'Schitt's Creek' actress stars in bold Evofem DTC campaign for Phexxi birth control

With an TV ad that begins “Welcome to my vagina,” does a brand even need a celebrity to get viewers’ attention? Evofem Biosciences isn’t taking any chances.

Its latest Phexxi birth control commercial opens with that line spoken by award-winning "Schitt’s Creek" actress Annie Murphy.

The outspoken millennial Murphy goes on to say “In here, I make the rules. Rule number one, keep it real, hon, and that means no hormones.”

Phexxi’s non-hormonal birth control approach is a key message for Evofem, and Murphy’s personal experience makes her a perfect fit as spokesperson, CEO Saundra Pelletier said.

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Murphy started birth control when she was 16, but side effects caused her doctor to switch her prescriptions. After she still had side effects, she was prescribed a vaginal ring, but still had side effects. So she stopped using birth control with hormones, which at the time was almost all of them.

Now, however, she uses Phexxi, a non-hormonal contraceptive gel applied in a similar fashion to a tampon that works by keeping vaginal pH within a range inhospitable to sperm. When used properly, its 93% efficacy rate is on par with traditional hormonal options.

“We think of the brand as genuine and authentic and sassy and edgy, but also empowering. We thought about a lot of celebrities, we talked to a lot of celebrities, but to be honest, Annie Murphy is a unicorn,” Pelletier said, adding, “There is no question there is no one like her of course, but she really does embody the brand.”

Evofem agencies McCann Health and Real Chemistry worked on the Murphy campaign, which is officially called “House Rules.”

Pelletier agreed that the work is evocative and even risky. In fact, McCann had to create two versions of the ad—one with the word vagina and one without it so that the TV ad could run in some markets in the U.S.

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“I thought my board was either going to love me or I was going to get fired,” Pelletier joked. “What I thought was super cool, though, was that Annie was so leaning into the fact that while we talk about elbows and we talk about knees, why do we call it a hoo-hoo? Why can’t we call it what it is—a vagina?”

Evofem is counting on younger women, who are more willing to talk openly about their bodies and contraception, to key into its messaging.

“We wanted to really represent women and do what’s right for women," she said. "Let’s not be afraid that men might not get it, let’s not worry about that. Let’s honestly and authentically put this together for women. Let’s make them laugh, make sure they know we’re here for them and let it resonate.”