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7 Ads That Break Social Taboos

There are some subjects that even in this day and age have remained taboo for advertisers. But failing to talk about certain conditions or issues has left many consumers feeling isolated, alone and somewhat confused!

Seven organisations have chosen to break the silence and discuss these topics in order to empower others, but also to disrupt the status quo, ensuring that it’s their brand or message that’s associated with the issue.

Whether you applaud their audacity and laugh out loud before pausing to assess the content against your own internal Mary Whitehouse, or simply cringe behind a cushion, the subject matter is emotive one way or another and emotion is a powerful tool in creating connections.

If you go where no-one else has dared to go, then you will always get a response from shock value alone. Someone somewhere will be offended, whilst others will think “about time too!” But, if others choose to follow then it’s no longer shocking and becomes normal. That’s how taboos get broken and society evolves!

1) Menstruation – UK

The SCA ad for Bodyform sanitary products in the UK talks about and shows blood – red blood, not blue. For 50% of the world’s population, having a period once a month has never stopped them from doing anything, including exercising. Where this is different is that the ad powerfully depicts strength, and that all women bleed, with the tag line “No blood should hold us back.”

2) Domestic Violence – Russia

Whilst ads about domestic violence are not uncommon, this one from Russia uses VR and 3600 video to elevate its message to the next level. The ad for non-profit Дела семейные (Family Matters) domestic violence aid centre cleverly illustrates how effective seeing a situation from every angle lets you see the real picture of what is happening. You may need to watch it twice!

3) Transgender – USA

The latest ad in Absolut Vodka’s USA #AbsolutNights campaign – “When was the last time you were true to yourself? Sometimes being open to new possibilities is all it takes. Make Your Nights #AbsolutNights” features ‘Darla’, a transgender woman who bumps into an old friend at a music festival. The story is told from the old friend’s perspective as the two of them enjoy the festival, whilst ‘Darla’ explains her experience.

4) Obesity – Germany

In a novel series of print ads celebrating weight gain a German beer company, Bergedorfer Bier celebrates beer bellies created through drinking their beer. The ads parody the infamous Vanity Fair front cover of a pregnant Demi Moore and imaginatively demonstrate that the men love their beer.

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5) Sexual Health – France

French non-profit organization AIDES, a HIV and AIDS awareness group, created four provocative ads for Euro 2016 reminding fans to protect themselves from HIV whilst fraternising with competitive supporters. The ads feature people of different races and sexualities posing nude with their bodies painted to represent the flags of their countries. All ads come with the message “Make Love, Not War” and portray couples post-coitus which is depicted by strategic paint smears!

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6) Pornography – France

French pay-cable TV provider Canal+ launched a series of ads announcing that it provided the best porn content, leaving its competitors “empty handed”. To illustrate the message it created a series of vignettes featuring a ‘real life porn star in a mock sex scene. These are perhaps best viewed when at home, but are not for family viewing!

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7) Female Orgasms – Spain

Spanish sex toy brand Bijoux Indiscrets has created a library of orgasms collected from ‘real’ women. Its premise is that 66% of Spaniards have a fictional view of sex and that through creating the library they can “help dispel the myths that condition our sex lives” through conveying the variety of real female sounds. Anyone can upload an orgasm anonymously and each one is transformed into a data visualisation that can be downloaded for posterity!

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