Why agency warned against ad

By Amelia Wade

Authority says charity's breast cancer commercial could only have shown after 8.30pm, limiting its viability.

After the Scottish breast cancer awareness advert starring comedienne Elaine C. Smith screened there was a 50 per cent increase in the number of women contacting their doctor.
After the Scottish breast cancer awareness advert starring comedienne Elaine C. Smith screened there was a 50 per cent increase in the number of women contacting their doctor.

The man leading the authority that warned against bared nipples in a breast cancer ad says he did so to save a charity time and money.

As part of its Naked Truth campaign for Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the NZ Breast Cancer foundation had planned to remake a Scottish advertisement which showed pictures of breasts with cancer symptoms.

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Rob Hoar, general manager of the Commercial Approvals Bureau (Cab), said had the charity gone through with the plan, the ad would have likely been given an Adults Only classification.

This would have restricted it to being shown after 8.30pm. In Scotland, the hard-hitting commercial featuring comedienne Elaine C. Smith has to be shown after 9pm but resulted in a 50 per cent rise in the number of women contacting their GP about the disease.

Mr Hoar said the authority had never banned the advertisement as some media reported.

The foundation sent the authority a link to the Scottish advertisement about a month ago and it had advised that New Zealand had "pretty firm rules about nakedness, nudity, genitalia, nipples and it probably wasn't appropriate for television advertising here".

"If you are making an ad like that, we would advise that you don't do it because it will restrict the placement of when it could be run.

"We didn't want to waste their time or money by making an ad they couldn't run so we said, 'We'd really rather you didn't include nipples'."

The NZ Breast Cancer Foundation used well-placed inanimate objects in their ads, that can screen anytime except during children's shows.

Spokeswoman for the foundation Adele Gautier said it would have liked to have produced an ad similar to the Scottish one because it would help get the breast-check message across. However, the foundation was happy with the final advertisement, which screens throughout this month.

Chief executive of the Advertising Standards Authority, Helen Souter, said bare breasts would have led to complaints. However, the important health message would have been taken into consideration. "Our experience would indicate that any body parts that are normally covered up that are no longer covered up, we get complaints about."

A TVNZ spokeswoman said if Cab had approved an ad with naked breasts they would have aired it according to its classification.

Breast cancer survivor Anne Harvey, of Howick, said anything that helped raise awareness was a good thing. Mrs Harvey, 62, was diagnosed two years ago with Stage 1 cancer after a routine mammogram. However, months earlier she noticed an odd mark on one of her breasts. It wasn't until later she learned these were symptoms.

"If this ad screened, perhaps I might have caught it earlier," she said.

One dose treatment 'exciting'

Two New Zealand breast cancer sufferers have been treated with an alternative to the usual weeks of radiation.

The Intrabeam intraoperative radiotherapy system, brought here by a team of Auckland breast cancer specialists, is a one-dose, one-time form of treatment and could revolutionise how breast cancer is treated.

It avoids the three to six-week course of radiation for 80 per cent of patients and eliminates the need for up to 25 visits to hospital for post-operative radiotherapy.

At present, only women who have early-stage breast cancer, negative lymph nodes and are 50 or older qualify for the treatment, which delivers a single fraction of radiotherapy in 20 minutes to 30 minutes during the time of lumpectomy. Localising radiation where the lump is helps reduce the chances of cancer returning.

The treatment is available only at the private Southern Cross Hospital on Auckland's North Shore, but Focus Radiotherapy, who brought the technology here, said they intended to make it available across the country.

Spokeswoman for the New Zealand Breast Cancer Foundation, Adele Gautier, said the technology was exciting. "There's a huge cost of going backwards and forwards from the hospital, sometimes every day, for treatment. And most have already taken time off work for other treatments then they have to go back after radiation, drained."

As it becomes more mainstream, it could reduce waiting lists for standard treatment, she said.

Breast cancer

* About 2800 women are diagnosed with breast cancer each year.
* Seven women each day are diagnosed.
* 650 will most likely die.
* Visit anychanges.co.nz for more

The rules on advertising

Advertising Standards Authority on decency:

"Advertisements should not contain anything which clearly offends against generally prevailing community standards taking into account the context, medium, audience and product (including services)."

- NZ Herald

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