For many of us, bathrooms are a safe space to seek refuge and privacy— even (and maybe especially) public restrooms at bars. Bar restrooms have proven significant places for women and non-binary folks to connect and bond, whether with friends or even complete strangers. The healthcare and abortion provider Hey Jane identified this special, intimate quality of bar bathrooms and took advantage of it for their latest out-of-home ad campaign in Chicago, just in time for International Safe Abortion Day.
We’ve all experienced deep conversations in a bar bathroom, where we share more than we ever would outside of those four walls.Rebecca Davis
The campaign features advertisements in bar bathrooms and wild postings around the city, promoting the safe, discreet, and judgment-free abortion care that Hey Jane provides. “We’ve all experienced deep conversations in a bar bathroom, where we share more than we ever would outside of those four walls. We wanted people to see Hey Jane as an option they can keep private, much like those conversations,” Hey Jane’s Head of Brand Marketing, Rebecca Davis, explained her team’s thought process. “Someone may not be comfortable asking questions about medication abortion or even looking at a poster where others are watching, but they can quickly read an ad in the bathroom to get the crucial information they need to make the best decision for them.”
Davis shared that as common as it is to get an abortion—one in four people with a uterus will have an abortion in their lifetime—doing so is still quite stigmatized, with a recent survey revealing that two-thirds of people wouldn’t talk to their family or closest friends about their abortion. These stats guided the thinking behind Hey Jane’s campaign and ultimately pointed to bar restrooms as the perfect site for such a sensitive topic for so many.
“While many of our campaigns have centered around not being afraid to talk about abortion—and doing so in very public settings, like on highway billboards or wild postings on busy streets—we wanted to find a way to also connect with people in a more intimate, private setting that was still high-traffic. And the answer seemed obvious: bar restrooms,” Davis continued.
Chicago was the obvious place for Hey Jane to launch this campaign, considering the uptick in those seeking abortions in the city since the overturning of Roe vs. Wade. “Illinois has become a haven for abortion care,” elaborated Davis. “In the year following the Dobbs decision, Hey Jane saw a 301% increase in medication abortion patients in the state, and many of our patients in Chicago have turned to us because in-person clinics have appointment wait times of up to four weeks. This campaign is our way of letting them know that they have a safe, effective, and fast option.”
When asked how designing an ad for a bar bathroom differs from other contexts, Davis said striking visuals with a concise message is key. “Most people are in and out of the bathroom quickly, so the design needed to be approachable and eye-catching. We wanted people to leave the bathroom feeling like they made a connection with us, even if it’s just remembering the website should they or someone they love need care in the future.”
While all of us are served countless ads throughout our daily lives, this Hey Jane campaign pulls ahead of the pack for the life-saving services it boosts. “Everything we do is for our patients, and we are so humbled and motivated by the opportunity to share crucial information about reproductive and sexual health care by meeting patients where they are,” said Davis.
And if there’s one place women and non-binary folks are, it’s the bar bathroom.