Singapore Cancer Society - If only women paid as much attention to their breasts as men do - (1997)

This cheeky ad from the Singapore office of the Leo Burnett Company won the 1997 New York Festivals sponsored Grand Awards for best public service announcement. It was for the Singapore Cancer Society/Breast Cancer Awareness. It was received well in Japan too.

"If only women examined their breasts as much as men do."

According to the AEF:

The advertising world has long known that sex sells, but does sex translate?

While globalization is making the world smaller and bringing companies into new foreign markets all the time, the customs, perceptions and subtleties surrounding sex in different countries can make it a minefield for advertisers who merely want to be playful or use sex to grab some attention.

What might be funny to Americans can easily be raunchy elsewhere; what is easily amusing in Asia can be offensive in Europe.

Take a recent ad for breast-cancer awareness which depicts an attractive woman in a sundress drawing stares from men on the sidewalk. “If only women paid as much attention to their breasts as men do,” goes the voice-over.

The ad, produced in Singapore by Leo Burnett Worldwide, now a part of holding company B COM3 Group, was a big hit in Japan, where people felt it was a humorous way to draw attention to an important health issue. But the public-service ad flopped in France, despite perceptions in the wider world that to the French, sex is a topic open to discussion in almost any circumstances. In fact, the use of humor to talk about a serious disease offended French sensibilities.

“It was a confusing collision of two conflicting mind-sets,” said Gerard Stamp, London-based European creative director for Leo Burnett. “Breasts as sex objects are healthy, enjoyable and life-affirming; breast suffering from a life-threatening disease are anything but. To our French viewers, this was an inappropriate way to talk about a serious health issue.”

All despite the fact that in France, “breasts can be used in almost any ad provided there is some justifiable reason, no matter how tenuous,” he added, laughing.

ad agency: Leo Burnett Worldwide , Singapore
VO: Jim Aitchison

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