On TV Discussing the NHS Walsall Ads on BBC Breakfast
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On TV Discussing the NHS Walsall Ads on BBC Breakfast

October 9, 2019


– Stop and tail. (laughing) – Now it’s 7:40. It was meant to be an
eye-catching poster campaign to tackle teenage pregnancy, but an NHS advert has
been branded out of touch and sexist. – Here it is, the ad shows
an image of high heels and lipstick next to a dummy and asks, “Would you give
up this?” I.e. the heels, “For this?” The dummy. – [Woman In Background] Yeah – Walsall Health Care NHS Trust,
which launched the campaign has apologised for the advert, but insists it’s played an important role in combating teenage pregnancy. Well, let’s talk more about this now with Mum Blogger Vicki Psarias and also Advertising
Executive, Nicky Unsworth. Thanks very much for joining us! Nicky can I ask you first of all, you’re a person who knows a lot
about how to make a good ad. What did you think when you saw this? – Well, I think it’s that,
it’s an admirable subject, and they are trying to tackle it. Um, they’ve said some
of the right things but probably in the wrong
environment and almost certainly in the wrong way. I think advertising is all
about changing behaviour, it’s all about relating to the
people that you’re targeting, and I think that some
clumsy stereotyping gone on in this ad that’s made it a
topic of debate, if you like. – Advertising is also about
getting attention though, isn’t it? And they certainly got that. I just wonder whether that
was actually the end game. To make us discuss it
in programmes like this. – Yeah, I think that’s a great point. It is about grabbing attention
and the other thing to say to be fair to them is
public sector advertising is normally small budget; and they have to stand out and
it’s a very cluttered market. I think the problem here is
the attention is around the execution and not around the topic, and the topic is about
contraception for youngsters and what were talking about
is how it’s been executed. So, I think that if it made
us talk about contraception, then that might have been more successful. – [Woman In Red] All right, so
let’s talk to Vicki as well, cause you know you blog a
lot about being a parent and obviously talk a lot to other
parents about this as well. What was your take on this? – [Vicky] I mean, I was
shocked, like a lot of people. It’s, yeah there’s clumsy
stereotypes there and it perpetuates this very
limited view of parenting and of mothers particularly. I know that the one targeted
to men wasn’t much better. To young guys. Um, they’ve defended their
position saying it’s because you know they’re 14 year olds
and they did market research. But culturally, this is,
it feels very negative. It feels massively archaic
and it is taking us backwards, not forwards. – [ Woman In Red] Do you
think that perhaps though is the view of all the people whereas
teenagers might not think that, and they might, it might work for them. – Potentially, but I
think that it’s, you know, it’s dangerous stereotyping. It’s saying that you know,
it’s mutually exclusive to like tech, to like lipstick, to
like heels, going on the ads for the boys and the
girls and to have a baby and actually I don’t
think that’s positive. And meanwhile we’re seeing these
in the public domain anyway So people in their 20’s, 30’s,
40’s who are having babies are also being fed this
story that you have become identity-less when you have a baby. It’s pretty dangerous and it’s
a tad like were going back to the 40’s and 50’s. – [Man] Nicky, do you agree,
the point Steph made that you know, we’re not the
target audience here. That maybe, we don’t quite
understand the relevance, and maybe this does hit home. – Yeah, I think, again, it’s a great point and one of the things we
have to really well is to understand target audience to
the world that they are living in, the other sorts of brands
that are talking to them. I mean, when I knew I was
going to talk to you about this, I tested it out
with a few young friends. And the problem with
this is that it doesn’t actually resonate, so they
don’t relate to the image, so they don’t actually
go in to read the sort of finer points about the contraception. So, um, you know we may
not be target audience but I don’t believe that necessarily
is tackling the issue for that audience. – [Steph] And you’ve just seen now
that this is the other ads that was designed presumably for
teenage boys they’re saying that Walsall Healthcare
Trust have said about this um, I mean, the language there as well. – [Nicky] Yeah – [Steph] Would they
have done a focus group with teenagers – [Nicky] Well, it’s interesting,
I mean, you would tend to think that one small
focus group would probably have flagged up these issues. I mean, I do admire that
they’ve got out there with this campaign and this topic
that is really important but it does make you feel like one
focus group would have flagged that the language feels a
little bit clumsy, a little bit patronising, a
little bit condescending. I mean the one thing you would
say is a positive to all this is that this is like one
massive focus group now, so they’re looking to adapt
the campaign for next year then they’ve had lots of
input to help lead them down a better track, I would say. But, um, it doesn’t feel like
the type of language that youngsters would be using for sure. – [Steph] And Vicki, just
on that point as well, how would you have done it if you were creating an ad like this? – Oh my gosh, you’re
putting me on the spot here, Um, I definitely wouldn’t
have used these very sorts of banal stereotypes. I mean, if you look at 14
year olds girls, they like tech as well so to me, that
felt very sexist in itself. I think I would focus on
the use of contraception, and really drum that home
and offer information. That’s what young people want. They want to know they’ve got choices, they want to know where
to find those choices. So, I think making that very
clear and using colours, and a tone of voice that
really does resonate. Because they’re using like
very archaic, old fashioned uh, imagery even, not even
imagery that we look at on on Twitter, or Facebook, or Instagram. Um, so unfortunately for me
that, it really has failed. – [In Unison] Okay – [Steph] Vicki, thank you very much – Thanks so much for having me. – Nicky, thank you as well. – You welcome – I appreciate that, certainly
it got attention anyway – It has, which I guess is
often the main point of these campaigns, is it? Just after quarter to eight Tuesday morning, and Matt’s got the weather for us this morning. Hi Matt!

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