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Advertising Defeats of Breasts and Vagina Taboos

Making a Clean Breast of Early Cancer Detection

Breast Cancer afflicts millions of women globally. Fortunately, clinical expertise in administering effective remedial treatments, continues to advance rapidly.

Early detections though, remain vital for totally successful outcomes, and the key to detecting early symptoms of breast cancer, is self-examination.

But empowering women of all ages, with insightful knowledge of how to take control of their own well-being monitoring, poses a continual communication challenge.

Images of naked breasts are banned in most countries from public broadcast channels, and advertising agencies, with heath-care clients, have to find creative alternatives of visually demonstrating self-examining routines that would pass censorship and be compellingly informative.

1. Finesse Alpina, Synchronise With Your Body

Advertising Agency: Sancho BBDO, Bogotá, Colombia

Sancho BBDO, and Dairy product brand Finesse Alpina, teamed up with the Colombian League Against Cancer, in a communication campaign to promote routines for Colombian women to detect early symptoms of possible breast cancer, with self-examinations.

The scenario centres on the innovative synchronisation of self-examining guidelines, with the filmic routines of artistic swimming performances by the Columbian women’s olympic team.

Superbly directed by filmmaker Bastian Kuhn, with Cinematographer Andres Comanche Vergara behind the camera, the ‘Synchronise With Your Body’ commercial, is visually enchanting and rewarding to view.

2. Spinneys, The Bread Recipe

Advertising Agency: McCann, Paris, France

The Cannes 2021 PR Grand Prix winner, and winner of several Gold and Silver Lions for Health & Wellness, PR, and Media, ‘The Bread Exam’ campaign, is a remarkable communication breakthrough.

To empower women with self-examination know-how, of detecting early signs of breast cancer, required finding creative ways of overcoming cultural taboos relating to intimate parts of the body, and involved the collaboration of several role-players.

McCann Paris, the McCann Worldgroup network, the Weber Shandwick Public Relations Company, Supermarket Chain Spinneys, the Lebanese Breast Cancer Foundation, and the American University of Beirut Medical Centre.

Headquartered in Dubai, Spinneys is a multinational supermarket chain active in the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Lebanon, Oman and Pakistan.

3. MACMA Argentina, Man Boobs

Advertising Agency: David, Buenos Aires, Argentina

The David Agency and Argentina’s Breast Cancer Help Movement MACMA’s advertising campaign, was a concerted endeavour to raise early awareness of breast cancer detention.

They realised that their objective would possibly necessitate defying social media and public broadcast censorship of images featuring any hint of nudity.

The challenge facing Joaquin Cubria and Ignacio Ferioli, executive creative directors at David, was that getting women over 25 to check their cell phones every 5 minutes was easy, but to get them to examine their breasts regularly required showing women a step-by-step technique of self-examination on naked breasts, real breasts, but that was being denied to them.

They decided to risk circumventing the censors by substituting ‘man boobs’ for naked female breasts in their commercial and made advertising history.

Directed by Argentinian filmmaking duo Tommy Quartino and Fran Colombatti, the campaign won a Cannes Gold Lion for Film, and a Cannes Health for Good Grand Prix.

48 million views were motivated in the first week of airing, and shared 700,000 times, becoming the most shared and viewed breast self-examination campaign ever.

4. MACMA Argentina, Everybody Loves Boobs

Advertising Agency: David, Buenos Aires, Argentina

The David Agency and Argentina’s Breast Cancer Help Movement MACMA, decided that a bold, new approach was required to remove any lingering social stigmas about an affliction that can be avoided or cured with early detection.

After long and thoughtful deliberations about how to creatively bypass legislative restrictions, Executive Creative Directors Joaquin Cubria, and Ignacio Ferioli, decided to take the calculated risk, of imaginatively replacing the forbidden images of nipples, with singing mouths. It was a responsible risk that paid off handsomely.

‘Everybody Loves Boobs’, Directed by Argentinian filmmaking duo Tommy Quartino and Fran Colombatti, is surreal and decidedly bizarre.

Although some viewers proclaimed the commercial to be a grotesque send-up, the images are undeniably impactful, and effectively memorable.

Making headlines across the world for all the right reasons, ‘Everybody Loves Boobs’ broke through many of the social barriers concerning Breast Cancer awareness communication.

Suffering In Silence

As many sociologists, and women’s health care specialists have highlighted, normalising conversations about female genitalia, are vital for combatting stigmas that lead to social isolation and psychological distress.

And experts in a joint statement issued by The United Nations High Commissioner’s Office in 2019, stated; “Persistently harmful socio-cultural norms, stigmas, misconceptions and taboos around menstruation, continue to lead to exclusion and discrimination of women and girls.”

5. Essity FemCare, Viva La Vulva

Advertising Agency: AMV BBDO, London, UK

Directed by filmmaker Kim Gehrig, the integrated campaign for the Swedish Essity FemCare brand known as ‘Libresse’ in the Nordic countries, and ‘Bodyform’ in the United Kingdom, combines live action and animation, in memorable and amusingly visualised vaginal analogies.

The objective of Essity FemCare’s brand communication campaign is to break down those taboos, insecurities and stereotypes that women are subjected to, when it comes to their genitals, and celebrate the vulva in all its beautiful forms.

The Essity Company believes, that feelings of insecurity and social awkwardness, that prevents women from having a positive relationship with their bodies, is a result of society projected myths about the perfect vulva, that has gone on for far too long.

Publicly lauded by women globally on social media, and numerous published articles, the multi award-winning ‘Viva La Vulva’ campaign, which includes several Cannes Lions and a 2019 Clio Grand Prix, features a resonant soundtrack of American musician and poet, Camille Yarbrough’s, “Take Yo’ Praise”.

6. Essity FemCare, Womb Stories

Advertising Agency: AMV BBDO, London, UK

Essity, the creator of Feminine Care Brands Bodyform & Libresse, and agency AMV BBDO’s groundbreaking, visceral #wombstories campaign, was initiated to candidly address research findings, that 62% of participating respondents, didn’t think women’s anatomy and health issues were talked about openly enough.

As Tanja Grubner, FemCare Global Marketing & Communications Director at Essity, on the Glamour website explained:

“With #wombstories we are starting a movement. We want to boldly go where no other brand has been before; inside women’s bodies and emotions to truly represent their sensations and feelings that we believe are not only invisible, but also ignored, overlooked, or denied”.

Filmmaker, director, writer, and producer, Nisha Ganatra, teamed up with female animators; Roos Mattar, Kate Isobel Scott, Haein Kim, Carine Khalife, Laura Jayne Hodkin, and Salla Lehmus, to produce an insightful and powerful narrative, of live footage and animation vignettes.

Winner of a Cannes Titanium Grand Prix in 2020, and 9 D&AD Pencils, including one of only three awarded Black Pencils, Essity’s ‘Womb Stories’, were universally hailed by women, as a socially enlightening “breathe of fresh air”.