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Breast Cancer awareness PSA criticized for **lack** of nudity

Breast Cancer awareness PSA criticized for **lack** of nudity

New Zealand Breast Cancer Foundation Breast Cancer awareness PSA criticized for **lack** of nudity

Here’s an unexpected scandal.

When the New Zealand Breast Cancer Foundation sought to remake the Scottish government’s extremely popular campaign featuring a topless Elaine C. Smith, they faced a serious obstacle: Showing nipples, even in the interest of describing cancer symptoms, is not allowed on TV before 8:30 pm.

Instead, the ad uses an Austin Powers sight gag of covering the breasts with objects:

In an interesting turn of events, NZ’s Advertising Standards Authority received a complaint that the ad didn’t show enough nudity:

Complainant, D. Gilroy, said: the advertisement portrayed women as if they were “ashamed of their bodies” and questioned why an advertisement which was informing woman about breast health should cover up breasts.

The complaint was not upheld:

The Chairman was of the view that the advertisement was clearly informing woman about breast health and contained an important safety message which outweighed the offence caused to the Complainant by women’s breasts being hidden. The Chairman said when taking into account generally prevailing community standards, the advertisement did not reach the threshold to cause serious and widespread offence to women on basis of their gender to most people.

In the end, however, I think that “D. Gilroy” made her point. The story was picked up by national media, and now here it is on Osocio.

Sure, the Breast Cancer Foundation has the right to use any reasonable gimmicks they need to to get their message across, but besides a little criticism I think they come out ahead as well. After all, we’re talking about early breast cancer detection, and nobody was badly exploited.

The unfortunate thing about the PSA is that the playful covering up of breasts actually sexualizes them more than exposure in a medical context would. But that’s the problem with advertising standards — they tend to focus on details rather than intent.

New Zealand Breast Cancer Foundation
Otago Daily Times

I am Creative Director at Acart Communications, a Canadian Social Issues Marketing agency. Read more