Leith Agency’s television commercial commissioned by the Scottish Government, has a very simple message. Breasts with breast cancer may look deceptively normal. You just must get your breasts checked.
The message is given by actress, Elaine C Smith, whose mother died of breast cancer. In front of her naked body is a screen showing deceptively normal breasts, They all contain early stage breast cancer. You couldn’t tell. I couldn’t tell. Smith tells you what symptoms they are exhibiting. It is still very hard to see. And that’s the point.
The commercial is extremely powerful. Truthful messages told simply often are. Smith reminds you that breasts cancer ‘is very treatable these days’ and the commercial ends. The commercial was spurred by research which showed that many women neither regularly check their breasts nor really know what to look out for if they do.
The spot was created by Guy Vickerstaff, Leith's head of art, and Phil Evans, copywriter, directed by Alex Telfer and produced by MTP. The images were created using a mixture of real breasts and retouching in order to depict accurate portrayals of possible signs of the disease. The team worked with the chief health officer of Scotland and cancer specialists to ensure their accuracy.
Phil Evans stressed that the task was clear and the execution obvious, “The point of this campaign is to inform women of the early signs of breast cancer. Showing these respectfully and in a non-sensationalist way, while also keeping the TV regulators happy, was the first requirement. But we wanted to do more than that. We wanted woman to sit up and take note of this ad. So we made it look like the ad was delivered by a naked Elaine C Smith. Once we’d decided on that, it set the tone for everything else. The finished ad is stripped back and laid-bare. A straightforward but heartfelt appeal to every woman in Scotland.”
Jill Walker, senior marketing manager, Scottish Government is a staunch supporter of the campaign, which has to go to air after 9pm, “This is a bold campaign, visually ground-breaking and aims to get women to recognise the signs to look out for. Breast cancer touches many lives and can be scary, you’re five times more likely to survive if it’s caught in its earliest stage. This campaign aims to move people to get checked by their GP early”.
The breast cancer campaign is part of the Scottish Government’s £30 million (Aus$46 million) Detect Cancer Early drive, which aims to increase the early detection of cancer by 25%, saving more than 300 lives a year by the end of the next Parliamentary term.
Radio, online and press ads are also running for four weeks. The mainstream campaign is supported by PR delivered by Consolidated PR, media buying by Carat and independent creative testing by TNS.