Brands are bravely busting butt taboos

Brands are bravely busting butt taboos

Advertising has a long history of breaking taboos.

From women’s intimacy issues when AMV BBDO created #wombstories with Bodyform and helped break the culture of silence that reinforced taboos, to periods with the 'Periods Never Sleep' campaign #Periodsomnia exposing the truth about periods at night, and normalising Down Syndrome romance with 'Just The Two Of Us', highlighting the right to romance and sexual relationships for people with Down syndrome. 

Addressing people’s relationships with their rear ends, however, has been somewhat lacking until, well, last week apparently, when two campaigns aimed at rear end awareness came along at once.

The first advert, from Prost8, was a ‘so now I know’ learning moment, for this writer at least. Yes, I was today years old when I found out that prostate checks needn’t involve a finger up the butt, and can instead be monitored via a blood test.

Prost8’s MO for the advert was the premise that if more people knew this, more would get checked out and potentially diagnosed for prostate cancer earlier. The power of ‘advertising for good’ is strong in this brand, then, and credit should go to copywriter Glenn Scholefield and TBWA for removing a clear barrier many have towards prostate testing.

The OOH campaign is currently live for Prostate Cancer Awareness Month with media provided by BUILDHOLLYWOOD.

Gary Fawcett Lisa Nichols
Sophie Harris- Taylor
Gripvan (London) Ltd

Andrex unclenches our fears

The second butt-related advert to cross the Creative Moment radar was Andrex’s latest campaign, which is ushering in a new era of openness around bathroom habits. 

Its ‘Get Comfortable’ brand platform, by FCB London, focuses on the British societal taboo and discomfort surrounding toilet use, leading to an unhealthy relationship with their bodily functions.

The launch film, titled ‘First Office Poo’, portrays a woman inadvertently emitting an audible fart in front of her co-workers. Following a brief moment of awkwardness, she notices the Andrex puppy beneath her desk, offering a reassuring nod.

Empowered by this encounter, she seizes control of the situation, confidently grasping a roll of Andrex and striding purposefully through the office, toilet paper in hand. Set to a powerful soundtrack, the film culminates in her confidently entering the restroom, owning her actions.

FCB London
Get Comfortable
Andreas Nilsson

Our take

There’s a lively X debate over whether politics is downstream of culture. ie, do laws follow from demand, or does top down policy making shape the culture? People from all political perspectives are divided on this issue, and being left, right or centrist politically seems to have no bearing on conclusions.

This debate is tangentially relevant to these two adverts. Have we matured as a society whereby we are able to embrace these two adverts, or will these two adverts trailblaze a new era of butt-acceptance?

Whatever the case, the effectiveness of the adverts’ execution is important in gauging public readiness. Research conducted by Andrex revealed widespread fears about using public restrooms in the UK. Many individuals admit to avoiding using work or romantic partner's bathrooms due to bowel shyness, while a significant portion even feel uncomfortable when visiting their in-laws.

Andrex’s advert does away with the typical tropes of toilet paper ads, such as close-ups of packaging and pristine bathrooms, and marks a shift for the sector. 

It’s designed then to spark conversations about societal taboos surrounding toileting habits, and demonises those who judge others for perfectly normal behaviour. The advert’s humour is tastefully deployed then, by parodying the authoritarian types, and ‘punching up’.

Andrex was also wise to use its clout to support worthwhile causes. The campaign follows Andrex's partnership with Bowel Cancer UK and ITV, with upcoming joint efforts featuring past Big Brother housemates and Sharon Osbourne. Additionally, a collaborative VOD spot with Bowel Cancer UK, titled ‘Born Unembarrassed’, is slated to launch in April during Bowel Cancer Awareness Month.

Prost8’s advert also uses humour effectively, playing on our minds’ ability to all too readily see forbidden bodily parts where there are none: inducing a sort of buttock pareidolia.

The humour that accompanies the misconception is important to the advert’s message: that if we have misconceptions about an innocent photo, we might have misconceptions about other medical altercations.

At Creative Moment, we welcome this new era of arse autonomy, and applaud the creatives involved for a well-rounded execution.

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