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Selling shock to prevent teen pregnancy? Does that ever work?

Selling shock to prevent teen pregnancy? Does that ever work?


Just because you have a clever art direction idea, doesn’t mean you need to act on it.

This campaign, by Sparkling México for Save The Children, is one of those situations. It’s shocking and attention-getting, sure. But was it the right thing to do?

I saw this on Adland, where it was pointed out that Mexico has higher teen pregnancy rates than anywhere else in the world. That’s shocking enough on its own. But the violence of these post-operative images doesn’t treat teen moms very kindly. It almost seems as if it would re-victimize someone who was forced to go through with an unplanned pregnancy, and furthermore had the baby surgically birthed.

Mexico has a high rate of caesarean births, at almost 38% (the USA is 30%, Japan 17.4%). It also has a really high abortion rate (54%) due to a lack of access to reliable birth control and family planning information.

These ads don’t say how donations to Save The Children will actually save them from pregnancy. And as Adland’s Dabitch pointed out, “If the teenager is pregnant, it’s likely due to not being able to afford or have access to birth control. Yet they have access to a surgery team for baby delivery?”

What I really would have liked to have seen here is for Save The Children to have suggested a sustainable solution rather than heaping shame on the problem. But then again, this may have been done purely for the awards shows. I can’t seem to find a version in Spanish anywhere…



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