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U By Kotex*: Great Social Change Cause Campaign, Period.

Posted by: Trisha Stezzi on 3/31/2012

Cause Marketing | Social Change Campaign

U by Kotex* is a line of feminine care products designed to bring discussion about vaginal health into the 21st century by removing the stigma and totally changing the conversation about women’s health – in places and with people Millennials trust most.  The effort, launched in 2010 and based on catalyzing social change around a taboo topic, has resulted in a significant return on investment (ROI) for Kimberly-Clark and it’s Kotex brand, including an astounding 8% market share and a 20% boost in colorful branded conversations that are still going on.

This award-winning product line and integrated marketing campaign was built around solid market research insights such as:

  • Millennial women, 14-22, readily accept and promote change, and believe that expressing their true selves is a priority. These same women also crave social change: someone to “stop the cycle” of talking about vaginas and menstruation in metaphors.
  • 70% of women believe that it's about time society changes how it talks about vaginal health issues, however, less than half (45%) feel empowered to make a difference
  • Most women claim to be knowledgeable about vaginal health issues, however, more than a third cannot dispel some basic myths
  • 52% of women feel that society looks down upon talking about vaginal health

These important insights lead to the positioning of the U by Kotex brand as the enabler of an enlightened approach to vaginal care – a complete 180 degree change from all of the traditional category messaging which reinforced outdated clichés and feelings of shame and embarrassment. 

U By Kotex* leveraged cause-related marketing in various forms to deliver on this innovative brand promise via social media and traditional media for maximum impact.

U By Kotex* Cause Marketing Campaign Elements Included:

  • Cause Marketing via Behavior Change (also called Social Marketing)

    • Breaking down barriers and taboos around the topic of women’s vaginal health by showcasing a new, modern approach that makes this important topic accessible to women.
    • Taking Back the Conversation” by calling out the ridiculous ads, shifting the language from euphemisms to more direct terminology
    • Discouraging shame and embarrassment around the topic, encouraging open dialogue via various opportunities to engage with the brand:
      • Ban the Bland: Tampons are no longer something to hide!  Use a Design Tool to design a pad, carrying tin or inspiration board to express your unique self, inspire other girls and support a good cause.
      • Sign the                                                           “The Declaration of Real Talk
  • Cause Marketing via Fundraising for A Non-Profit Partner

    • Partnership with Girls For Change
    • $1 donations generate with each “The Declaration of Real Talk” and $1 donated for each design submitted.
    • Ride in a branded vehicle during NYC Fashion Week to generate a donation to non-profit partner Girls For A Change up to $100,000.
  • Cause Marketing via Raising Public Awareness for a Cause

    • As of August 2011, the effort had generated 640 MM media impressions 
    • PR Event: A NYC Kardashian event breaking down a graffiti-filled wall of feminine care euphemisms to launch the Declaration of Real Talk
    • Girls For Change partnership promoted and showcased
  • Cause Marketing via Cause Subject Matter Education

    • Online Resources & Forums: Kotex has built a community where girls can learn about their bodies in an environment where they don’t feel judged or ashamed about their feminine care needs, and so that they can receive accurate information
    • Experts: Nancy Redd (author), Dr. Aliza (Hispanic MD), Dr. Tomi-Ann Roberts (Psychology PhD) and Chelsea Krost (millennial media personality) credentialed the brand, providing meaningful medical and psychological information about health
    • Information “partnerships” with the 100 most influential online influencers, asking them to deliver clear, unvarnished information to the target

Additional Campaign Elements:

  • Extensive social media efforts supported by full time staff and trained internal cross-functional teams
  • Product integration on the Tyra Banks Show
  • NYC Fashion Week: Pop Up Fashion Shows styled by Patricia Fields
  • Let’s Talk Periods With Kloe, Kim and Kris Kardashian
  • Direct-to-consumer online communications
  • Extensive consumer sampling
  • Retail in-store support

Return on Investment (2011 numbers)^:

  • Trial: 10 weeks after launch, U by Kotex* captured 8% of the category, leading the overall Kotex brand to a 20+% share for first time in over a decade
  • 69% conversion rate of coupons to samples
  • More than 2.2 million website visits, including: 15,442 declaration signatures; 116,603 likes; 23,325 Facebook likes; 1.2 million sample requests and over 600,000 online interactions
  • Over 2 million YouTube views; 2,300 product-related tweets
  • Over 3,000 online advocates in the first week who generated and distributed content about vaginal care, health
  • Over 640 million media impressions, including The New York Times, The Today Show (NBC), TMZ,, OK!, Seventeen, Teen Vogue, Huffington Post, AdAge
  • AdAge named U by Kotex* one of America’s Hottest Brands 2010, for product and marketing delivering the greatest impact
2012 screen shot:

What’s Next?

With such enormous success, it’s not surprising that the brand is continuing forth in the evolution of this brand strategy that is changing the future of its industry. Melissa Sexton, Director of Integrated-Marketing Planning for adult and feminine care at Kimberly-Clark, had this to say: "Our strategy isn't about being unconventional. I know it's not luck. Our commercial programs are going to continue to be successful because, at the heart of them, it's about creating meaningful experiences for consumers."

This post by Content Marketing Institute, “Kotex Uses Stand-Up Comedy in New Content Campaign,” does an outstanding job of summarizing the 2012 “Stand Up for What’s Real” campaign and also offers background on the campaign.

In 2012, Kotex also launched “The World’s First” Pinterest Campaign,” called “Women’s Inspiration Day by KOTEX.” Kotex researched and created 50 custom gifts (inspiration packages) and sent then to 50 influencers in Israel who pinned, blogged tweeted and socially shared their experience. This inaugural outreach effort resulted in nearly 100% participation and 694,853 total impressions. Learn more about this innovative blogger-relations social media campaign via this interview with its creator, Yael Linen-Zuchman, CEO of the agency Smoyz.  Watch a video about this innovative Pinterest Campaign. And, for more about cause marketing on Pinterest read a previous guest blogger post by Joe Waters.

U By Kotex* is a savvy, research-based, cause-related marketing brand strategy that is changing the future of an entire industry. Careful attention to authenticity, relevance, and appropriate consumer engagement tactics have most certainly played a large part in the success.

I’m impressed, period.

I might even start enjoying a monthly cycle of checking in on this campaign!  Ugh, sorry! I HAD to do it. ;-)

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^Source: U By Kotex: Feminine Care With A Bold, New Attitude

About For Momentum Staff Blogger Trisha Stezzi

Trisha Stezzi, Creative & Digital Director, Account Services
For Momentum

Trisha's insights are informed by 16+ years of creating and implementing custom cause marketing partnerships for major corporate and nonprofit brands combined with her passion for innovation, creativity and love of social media. Read more posts by Trisha here.

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    • Apr 06 2012, 6:54 AM David Hessekiel
    • Great job Trisha of capturing the numerous elements of this groundbreaking effort!

    • Apr 10 2012, 10:57 AM Trisha Stezzi
    • Thanks David! I love this is as impressive as it is integrated --and it needed showcasing! :)

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Sharing insights from For Momentum's 2015 Corporate Partner Survey, Mollye Rhea talks to Megan Strand and Joe Waters about what companies really want from their nonprofit partners. 

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