Cannes Lions

The Tampon Book: a book against tax discrimination



1 Grand Prix Cannes Lions
2 Silver Cannes Lions
2 Bronze Cannes Lions
8 Shortlisted Cannes Lions
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Caviar, Truffles and even oil paintings – in Germany many luxury goods are taxed with the reduced rate of only 7 percent while tampons and other female sanitary products attract the top value added tax rate of 19 percent. The so-called tampon tax provoked international protests in recent years and has already been abolished in countries like Canada and Kenya and even some US-States. However, in Germany, tampons are still taxed as luxury goods and politicians refused to act. The Female Company, an online shop, which sells organic female sanitary products wanted to take the lead in the feminist movement against the tampon tax.


We packaged tampons in a book and, thus, sold them with the lower tax rate of seven percent. In other words: We outsmarted the law with the law itself. But The Tampon Book is much more than a smart packaging that hacked the German tax system. The Tampon Book contains 45 pages with bold illustrations and empowering stories about menstruation, taboo and feminism and promotes a petition which urges the German parliament to discuss the abolition of the tampon tax.


The topic “tampon tax” is well known amongst feminists but not so much to the majority of German women – but it is perceived as interesting and relevant by virtually all women. But how could we spread the word? We used feminist influencers to reach mass media in order to spread our key message “Sign our petition to get rid of the tampon tax”. Since our packaging became a tool to hack the sexist German tax system, we made buying our product a political statement. Since we did not have any media money, there was no media planning. We did, however, research the feminist digital scene for weeks in order to find the most promising influencers, who would share our story. And this with success: More than half of the feminist influencers we had contacted decided to share our story and our call to action for absolutely free.


The Female Company doesn’t have a large budget. But we made the most of it! We sent 100 copies of The Tampon Book to politicians and 100 copies to feminist influencers and journalists. The book was launched on the 16th of April 2019. We promoted it with an online film which was uploaded on Facebook, Instagram and Youtube. The film directly promoted our petition as well as the book. We sold 1000 copies of the book on the very first day – and reprinted a second edition of 6000 copies. Originally planned to be a one-off publicity stunt, The Tampon Book became so successful, The Female Company decided to make it available indefinitely.


The first edition of The Tampon Book sold out in a day, the second edition in a week. We sent the book to 100 politicians and 100 influencers, many of whom shared our story on social media for absolutely free. Our trailer film on Youtube, Facebook and, most importantly, Instagram was viewed more than 10.5 million times – with a media budget of absolutely zero. Mainstream media, like Germany’s two largest TV Networks RTL and Pro7/Sat1 picked up the story, national newspapers like Berliner Zeitung and virtually every feminist blog in the German language reported on The Tampon Book. Within two weeks, the media pressure forced politicians from several oppositional parties to react and invite the founders of The Female Company to join forces. Our petition got the necessary 150,000 signatures to urge the German parliament to discuss the abolition of the tampon tax.

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2 Cannes Lions Awards
The Tampon Book: a book against tax discrimination


The Tampon Book: a book against tax discrimination


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