October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month so the press coverage and publicity around cancer related issues is increasing by the minute. Case in point is Dan Neil’s story in the LA Times this morning (September 22, 2009). The headline read: “Breast cancer ads use lechery for good.” Needless to say, I had to read on.
So here’s the deal: ReThink Breast Cancer, “a national volunteer-driven registered charity with a bold, enterprising and entrepreneurial approach,” developed the “Save the Boobs” television commercial to promote one of their fundraisers and to increase awareness of breast cancer among a younger demographic. The spot is outrageous, and I mean that in a good way. The spot features a very round, young, bikini clad woman strolling around a pool full of interested and excited onlookers (male and female). (The video is embedded below.) And the camera focuses intently on this voluptuous woman’s breasts. Then it delivers a powerful message: “Breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in young women ages 20 to 49.”
The article makes the point that this is the kind of advertising that, if the same imagery were used in a beer commercial or for GoDaddy.com, would cause outrage (the bad kind) on the part of those who strive ardently to defend all that is politically correct. But because this is about breast cancer awareness, they don’t have a leg to stand on without looking like morons.
Here’s an excerpt from Dan Neil’s article in the LA Times:
Also, this ad — and a couple more like it — represent one of the few occasions when the male tendency to objectify the female body is put to good use, as opposed to selling beer and premium football cable packages. They seem to answer a question that must have nagged breast-cancer-awareness advocates: How to get men to care? With rare exceptions, men don’t suffer from breast cancer. The earnest, sad-violins spots invoking moms and grand-moms of the past probably haven’t gained much traction among men.
Feminist film theory has a name for the camera’s eye here: The “male gaze,” which is to say, the camera’s view is that of the male spectator and unseen protagonist regarding the female as an object (cf. Laura Mulvey’s “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema”). This is the camera’s-eye of pornography and it’s inherently misogynistic. The “Save the Boobs” spot spoofs the male gaze and turns it into something positive. (Source: “Breast cancer ads use lechery for good,” LA Times, September 22, 2009)
Watch the spot and let me know what you think. Is this good advertising? Effective advertising? Are you offended? Speak up. I’d love to hear our opinion.
Post by Dan Dunlop, The Healthcare Marketer