“Camp Gyno” Creator Naama Bloom On Her Viral HelloFlo Ad and Why TV Is Afraid Of The Word “Vagina”

"Camp Gyno" Creator Naama Bloom On Her Viral HelloFlo Ad and Why TV Is Afraid Of The Word "Vagina"
By Amanda Walgrove
  • Having garnered over 5 million views in less than a week, HelloFlo‘s hilarious “Camp Gyno” ad demanded the attention of the Internet with its good-humored, unashamed, and youthful take on girls’ experiences getting their periods.

    “For these campers, I was their Joan of Arc,” the Camp Gyno declares. “It’s like I’m Joan, and their vag is the arc.”

    Written by Jamie McCelland and Pete Marquis, the roughly one-and-a-half minute video is presented as an advertisement for HelloFlo’s Period Starter Kits, of which the Camp Gyno says, “It’s like Santa – for your vagina!” BuzzFeed called the video “an amazing breakthrough in tampon advertising,” with HuffPo deeming it the “best tampon ad in the history of the world.”

    We caught up with HelloFlo founder, Naama Bloom, to learn more about how the viral sensation was created, why TV is still afraid of the word, “vagina,” and what’s next for her company.

    How did you come up with the idea of Camp Gyno?

    HelloFlo is a tiny little company I launched in March. Prior to launching it, when I was still working on the business, with the idea and building the site, I had asked a friend of mine whose boyfriend was a copywriter at an agency if she thought he might be interested in coming over for dinner so I could pick his brain about video ideas. I just thought a video might be a really good way to introduce the concept. He came over and we just had a conversation about the sort of universal experiences of women vis–à–vis their periods. There’s a number of them, right? Everyone knows the girl who bled through her pants in high school. Everyone remembers the time when they went to the bathroom and they were completely unprepared. And I was saying, every girl has a friend who – whether they know more or not – in your head, you believe they know more. I had a friend when I was at sleepaway camp, that I just always assumed knew more than I did about everything, specifically related to our bodies. She was the one who helped everyone learn how to use tampons. And he said, “Oh! So she was like a Camp Gyno?” Basically, as soon as he put those two words together, everything flowed from there.

    Why do you think the video has had such success and received an overwhelming reaction?

    I think that what makes it sort of revolutionary or breakthrough is just the juxtaposition with older advertising around menstrual products. Definitely, we touched a nerve. I also didn’t realize that other people didn’t have an outlet to talk about things like this. I did know that mothers are often very uncomfortable and nervous about talking to their daughters. And that’s why I launched this Period Starter Kit. I was thinking that the audience for this would be the mothers who remember what it was like to be young. And, certainly, I’ve had a lot of that, but I never thought that a girl who was still going through this would be able to distance herself enough from that experience and laugh at it. People look at it now, thinking that our intention was marketing to the girls but, actually, I was thinking about the moms.

    Have you heard reactions from women of various ages?

    A lot of the spreading was on Facebook, and everything you read about today, it’s a much older population on Facebook. I know that all of my mom friends have seen it. I’ve gotten a lot of emails, and someone even sent me a photograph of herself and her daughters watching it. I’ve gotten emails about moms watching it with their daughters, as a way to start the conversation, because what happens often is that, girls want the information, but they’re too embarrassed to talk to their moms. So, it’s been a way for the moms to break the ice with their daughters.

    Why did you choose to place it on YouTube? Could you ever see an ad like this playing on television?

    Certainly, it’s too long for television. We still tried to make it shorter, but you have the flexibility of telling a deeper story, because you have that amount of time. I don’t know if it’s within the realm of possibility. There’s so many commercials about erectile disfunction, and those are on the air, but for some reason the word, “vagina,” is viewed as this vulgar word even though it’s just the anatomically correct word. It’s gotten played on air – a bunch of clips on different news shows – people still don’t show her saying the word, “vagina,” and they’re not comfortable. They still don’t say it. It’s a really interesting thing how uncomfortable we are as a society, using the word. Most moms I know, myself included, are teaching their little children the correct word, so hopefully it’s going to change down the road, but it makes no sense. In hindsight, I think that’s why the video spread – is because we were just sort of out there with it, and people found that refreshing.

    Have you received any mixed feedback about the video?

    There is so much more positive than there is negative. I was prepared for so much more. I was hoping not, but I was really prepared for more. Some people just think these are private things and we shouldn’t be discussing them. One of the things that’s been really interesting was, last week a lot of the coverage was about the video, and this week, more people are writing about my business. “Oh, yeah, breakthrough video but the business? She’s still sending packages in a discrete box and sending candies, infantilizing.” Just because I’m comfortable about my period, I still know that the rest of the world is not. In the world that we live in where, if a woman is in a bad mood she’s accused of having her period. Most women, especially women in the work force, are not going to go around and tell people, “Oh I’m bleeding today.” The other thing about the candy – why wouldn’t you have something fun? When I was coming up with the idea, literally every woman I told about it, their first question was, “You’re gonna send chocolate, right?” Why wouldn’t I? It’s what’s expected. And it’s what women want.

    What’s next for HelloFlo?

    Our fulfillment was in my house and it can’t be anymore. So, we’re working very hard on setting that up. The fast next step is adding more product, specifically organics. There was a lot of demand for that. I had no idea I was going to get 5 million views. Simplicity is important for me, but it’s always been my plan to add more products. Organic products are particularly expensive, so that’s been a challenge, but I think now I have a better vantage point to get a better rate for my customers.