The F Word credited for major rethink of “Cervix Savvy” advertising campaign…

// 20 February 2009

Cervix Savvy Bus advertSee here….. Just goes to show that activism online can and does have an impact!

Lets just be very clear – it’s really important women are screened regularly for cell abnormalities on the cervix. Really important. Don’t put it off. But Camden – rabidly bad advertising idea!

Thanks to K for bringing it to my attention!

Comments From You

JENNIFER DREW // Posted 20 February 2009 at 6:13 pm

Excellent news that on-line criticism can make a difference with regards as to how medical services perceive women’s bodies. However, this Trust still attempts to justify their advertising campaign by saying male partners do appear to influence a woman’s decision with regards to having regular smear checks. But that in itself does not mean male images should be used since cervical cancer does not affect male bodies.

Pathologisation of women in respect of their bodies and health is not a new issue but is one which is centered around male control of female bodies. Perhaps next time this Trust will take into account women are autonomous beings and promotion of specific health services for women should clearly show which biological sex is being targetted.

Anne Onne // Posted 20 February 2009 at 7:14 pm

Wow, that’s some good news. Though we share credit with the hilarious response by Dave Gorman (wondering whether he has a cervix…). We knew that they’re re-designing some elements, but it’s nice to see where we figure.

Personally, I feel that it’s because cervical cancer screening (something in the media much more recently) is SO important that we need to think carefully how we encourage women to go. I’m glad that the comments were quite constructive, and that they will be taken on board.

It’s really a shame that it will cost money and time to change things, but it’s made me re-examine how we conduct these kinds of campaigns.

I’d like to see more input from the public in these kinds of campaigns, specifically because it’s an issue we care about, because testing the campaign on more people, maybe including feminists and other activists, and people in the relevant field at an earlier stage could avoid things like this.

We seem to structure campaigns around people trained primarily in marketing, regardless of the subject or the delicacy of what is being advertised, and I think having more input would be very helpful when a complex issue is being highlighted.

JENNIFER DREW: I know what you mean. Many things may influence someone’s decision (partner, timetable, ease of getting there, percieved staff friendliness, family history, news coverage, fear of finding out the truth, etc), but it’s problematic to centre a whole campaign on only one element of what may be influential. In the end, those men aren’t my partner, and probably won’t have the same effect as intended. It might be more effective for some people, but maybe many more will respond better to a site with women on it. Pictures of women on a site about women’s reproductive health feels more welcoming, personally.

Not to mention that most people don’t give up smoking etc for their partner, so partners only have a limited amount of influence in most cases. It’s important for partners to be supportive and aware (and I think a section aimed at men would be great, though not essential) but the main focus has to be aimed at those likely to suffer the condition, and address them in what may be a comforting way.

And another disclaimer: We’re not (nor were we ever) blaming the men for taking part in this campaign, or the designers or Jo’s Trust for trying to get more women to attend screening. The time and effort spent were laudable, and it’s good to see cervix cancer being highlighted.

Kez // Posted 20 February 2009 at 7:34 pm

I’m liking the Dave Gorman quote: “At the age of 37, I was cycling through London and genuinely wondering whether I’d spent my entire adult life wrongly believing a cervix to be a specifically female thing.”

Looking at that ad on the bus, one can totally see why he thought that!

Anyway, hurrah for online activism.

Anna // Posted 20 February 2009 at 7:47 pm

I disagree – I think there should be an element of both in all campaigns (i.e. campaigns for issues that only affect one gender – I don’t see why women can’t be used in prostate cancer adverts). I agree the original advert was tasteless, offensive, and actually liable to put people off getting a smear (not a pleasant job at the best of times), but I don’t see the problem with a limited amount of male representation in advertising campaigns for women’s health.

cb // Posted 21 February 2009 at 5:00 am

Nice work.. I’m glad to see that the pressure was noted.

Josie // Posted 21 February 2009 at 11:11 am

Well done ladies! In addition to getting rid of the men from the ads (what ON EARTH were they thinking???), let’s hope all references to “disgusting” and “pity the poor doctors and nurses” are removed too.

JenniferRuth // Posted 21 February 2009 at 12:10 pm

Amazing. Well done! It just goes to show that online activism can make a difference.

Saranga // Posted 21 February 2009 at 5:30 pm

Excellent news! we rock :-)

Amy // Posted 21 February 2009 at 7:47 pm

‘Men think cervix scans are cool, so what are you waiting for?’ Lol

Big Smiles = D

Natalie // Posted 22 February 2009 at 10:23 am

Josie – I believe they removed the ‘disgusting’ bit from the website as soon as they started to get complaints. Thank goodness!

Cara // Posted 22 February 2009 at 10:00 pm


Milly // Posted 23 February 2009 at 9:39 am

Fantastic! Yay for campaigning =)

Sabre // Posted 23 February 2009 at 1:38 pm

Hurray! And also, us giving the campaign more prominence by complaining about it might have indirectly raising the profile of cervical cancer and the need to get a smear test? They say any publicity is good publicity.

Naomi Mc // Posted 26 February 2009 at 2:48 pm

Ahhhhh! I saw those ads and was really confused. I couldn’t understand why they were using a man, it didn’t occur to me that he was meant to be some ‘gorgeous bloke’ telling me to check my fanny out! Apart from it being really offensive – I just didn’t get it.

Ms alison // Posted 26 February 2009 at 8:37 pm

I support the cause for women, but also I do think thatif women support it also, as it is the women’s vagina to be checked, not the male genitials, as it think it should be more focused on feminisim, i saw the advert myself, i thought it was about male check ups, not women, so its a bit mis leading,


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