Thinx alleged that Outfront also had a problem with using the word "period" and the amount of skin shown in its ads. In a statement Thursday, Outfront denied that it had objected to the word. Last fall, Outfront said it was simply trying to "assist advertisers in creating campaigns that are both effective and appropriate to the transit environment."
"We suggested changes that we felt were appropriate for the riding public and were hoping to work with the advertiser to refine the copy," Outfront said in its statement.
Agrawal and Thinx won out in the end. The ads were approved, and the company saw a boost from the social media outrage and press coverage. But the 37-year-old CEO said clever advertising isn't enough to sustain a business.
"I think culture shifting happens when you have not only great, accessible conversation, great design, great marketing, great all the things, but a product that actually works," she said.
Thinx declined to provide specific sales figures, but the company has spurred a flurry of enthusiastic product reviews from a number of media outlets. The company has also bagged celebrity endorsements, which Agrawal said it has not paid for.
Agrawal said that part of the success of Thinx is the fact that there's been little to no innovation in menstrual products. She said she's astonished that in "a $15 billion category, there's only been three major innovations in the entire 20th century: tampons, pads and menstrual cups."
"Really there was a huge opportunity to disrupt a category that sorely needed disrupting and at the same time break the taboo," she said.