21GRAMS helps client make period blood available to stem cell researchers

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21GRAMS helps client make period blood available to stem cell researchers

By Christiane Truelove

21GRAMS is helping Moons, a company that sells period products, in its goal to make menstruation a more positive experience for menstruators by giving them a role in stem cell research. Period blood is a large untapped resource for stem cell research but until recently there was no simple way to collect the blood and distribute it to researchers. Working with Moons, 21GRAMS helped craft a lid that turns a traditional menstrual cup into a stem cell preservation device – known as The Cure Cup, which Moons is currently seeking testers for.

“With The Cure Cup, menstruators have the chance to turn period waste into cures for the first time ever,” 21GRAMS executives state. “Instead of flushing menstrual blood away, it can be sealed, preserved, and sent to the lab. We also created the ad/marcomm creative strategy for the launch.”

The explanatory video shows how the device works. The lid, fitted to a menstrual cup, has an airtight seal and a button that the user presses to inject anticoagulant into the contents. The sealed cup gets put into a padded, postage-free box and sent away for distribution.

21GRAMS reports after using The Cure Cup, 70 percent of users reported feeling positive about their period for the first time, and 80 percent of them committed to keep donating their period blood. “That already creates 8,400 new stem cell samples – a 210 percent increase from current collection methods – from our initial users alone,” executives say. “That number will only grow when The Cure Cup reaches the mass market, bringing an avalanche of new period blood donations with it.”

The device and campaign were short-listed for a Cannes Glass Lion award.

“MOONS is a company whose mission has always been to destigmatize periods and increase society’s respect for periods as a whole,” says Clay MacGuire, VP and creative director at 21GRAMS. “Of course, historically, periods have been heavily stigmatized experience for menstruators that has brought a lot of shame to people with periods. So as we were working with MOONS, this opportunity to kind of bring that brand purpose and brand mission to life came across our desks. And our entire team was so excited to dig into this and realized that the best way to combat shame wouldn’t be through something as traditional assets, words and pictures, but would have to be by giving menstruators a life-changing experience themselves, to actually take their previously shameful period, and turn it into an empowering, life-saving substance for the world at large.”

Bringing the Cure Cup to life was definitely a collaborative process, according to MacGuire and Katie Dean, also VP and creative director at 21GRAMS.

Dean says MOONS was originally interested in redesigning menstrual cups, but realized in working sessions than rather trying to remake something that is already FDA-approved,  the company could instead design a lid that fit the cups on the market.

Not only would the collection of menstrual blood meet the shortage of stem cells, it specifically meets the need of the shortage in female stem cells, Dean says. “Previously, a large number of the stem cells that are within the bank for research are coming from male patients and predominantly white males as well,” she says. “And as you can imagine, when you have stem cells that come from just men, and have a certain demographic, that is really going to skew research outcomes. How are we ever going to be able to look at female-centric research that looks at female diseases if we don’t have stem cells from females, and also a diverse background of females? And so the response has been so exciting, to be able to get female stem cells from women of different ages and different ethnic backgrounds as well.”

According to Katy Poitak, co-founder and chief creative officer of Moons, the company expects a scaled-up launch of the Cure Cup in 2024.

“At MOONS, we’ve always believed in the power of periods, finally there is an actionable way to prove it – one that can wildly improve health outcomes for menstruators,” Poitak says. “We’re so pleased to play a part in shifting the culture around menstruation – with the Cure Cup, people with periods can be proudly involved in furthering inclusive medical research. We’re very grateful for the positive attention that the Cure Cup has received so far.”