When it comes to controversial advertisements, audiences are used to seeing uncomfortable topics portrayed via metaphors, or through complete avoidance of the subject all together in some cases.
However, it now looks as if big brands are shying away from being subtle, and instead are opting for an ‘in your face’ attitude towards their campaigns. Whether this is down to brands becoming more vocal politically, or they’re looking to diversify their ads, it seems to be a welcome change.
Already in 2019, there’s been praise (and criticism) for a number of campaigns that have caught the public’s attention. Gillette stirred up a storm with their ‘Is This the Best a Man Can Get?’ advert, which tackles toxic masculinity in the #MeToo era (and naturally angered Piers Morgan). More recently, however, Holland & Barrett and Sue Ryder have made marketing headlines with a different take on their respective industries.
Me. No. Pause. – Holland & Barrett
Many know Holland & Barrett as the health food and vitamin store, but this January they launched their campaign to tackle the ‘last taboo’ – the menopause. Partnering with Transport for London, the campaign follows five women on their journey through the menopause, with the strapline: ‘Me. No. Pause’. This campaign focuses on the struggles that come with this huge life change, whilst, of course, promoting the Holland & Barrett brand.
However, this campaign isn’t just skin deep, as staff at Holland & Barrett stores across the UK have had in-store training, so that any woman who is experiencing the menopause can speak freely and have access to medicines and remedies for their symptoms without feeling ashamed or embarrassed.
Let’s Talk About Death – Sue Ryder
For those of you who don’t know, Sue Ryder is a charity that helps people cope with life-limiting illnesses and offers a bereavement service for those coping with loss. So, do you want to talk about death?
That’s the question the first-ever campaign by the charity asks. It encourages people to open up a dialogue about dying and talk about their wishes for when they pass away. Alongside their out-of-home, radio and digital advertisements, Sue Ryder is offering a brochure that answers the questions many Britons are afraid to ask when it comes to bereavement and preparing for death.
“…Overwhelmingly people told us they just wanted us to be straight, to use the words ‘dying’ and ‘death’, not to be lighthearted about it – it’s going to happen to everybody, and we need to talk about it really frankly.” – Angela Cummings, Deputy Director of Marketing at Sue Ryder (for MarketingWeek.com)
Britain: The land of embarrassment and breakfast*
So, from a nation of Brits who are famous for their stiff upper lips, is it somewhat surprising that marketing and PR has turned towards straight-to-the-point advertising? Or was it silly to have such a taboo around natural things such as menstruation and death in the first place?
Whatever your brand message, Viva PR is here to help your business flourish. Get in touch with our team today for a chat by calling 01706 214340.
Nic Parkes | Burnley Social
*Quote by Julian Barnes