Thursday, June 23, 2011

Breast Cancer Foundation ads: Catchy or problematic?

Warning: These pictures may offend your sensibilities. So they are at the end of this post.

I found these advertisements, revealed to the public in August 2010, to raise awareness for breast cancer commissioned by the Breast Cancer Foundation in Singapore. Led by the creative director Thomas Yang, the illustrator Andy Yang used body paint on a model's body to show things that women are 'normally' obsessed about - representations of a derriere, bad hair, and a pimple. 

Surprisingly, I found a blog stating that these ads are 'excellent' and the 'best print adverts... for some time'. The BCF general manager Christine Ang was also 'satisfied' with these ads.

The catchphrase on all three ads are "Are you obsessed about the right things?", implying that Singaporean women are usually more concerned with the size of their behinds or their weight, bad hair days, and their complexion. While there are definitely women like that, it is a big leap to say that women obsess about this to the point of neglecting their health.

It's not one or the other - being superficial does not necessarily mean being unhealthy. Although it may overlap, these ads exclude women who exercise and eat well for their health, and not primarily their looks. These ads also essentialise women as being shallow creatures only worrying about how they look, with no worries about their careers, families or causes.

These ads put the blame on women who are suffering from breast cancer - they were worrying about the wrong things and so they forgot to check on their bodies - instead of acknowledging the unpredictable nature of cancer. 

Lastly, since when was it okay to display women's breasts in public in our nudity-shy Singapore? Does it make the message more catchy because the form of the body has been incorporated into the art? Would an ad for testicular cancer incorporate the naked male body too?

I think not.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


These are scams ads made just to win awards at Cannes Lion. They are not published ads. These ads never ran in Singapore. like MDA will ever approve this

Anyways, the ads are great! Its clever, attracts attention and the message is straight to the point. and being bombarded by lame marketing messages everyday, this one works well.


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