Matthew Backhouse

Matthew Backhouse is a NZME. News Service journalist based in Auckland.

Breast cancer ad portrayed women as 'ashamed of their bodies' - complaint

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.

A breast cancer awareness ad showing topless women covering up their breasts has sparked a complaint for showing too little flesh.

It comes after the Breast Cancer Foundation ditched plans to remake an innovative Scottish television ad that showed pictures of bare breasts with cancer symptoms - nipples and all - because the ad would have been allowed to run only after 8.30pm.

The complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) was directed at the ad the foundation used instead during Breast Cancer Awareness Month last month.

The ad showed women with their breasts obscured by objects such as flower pots, cupcakes, balloons and cameras. It urged women to take a look at their breasts, because it may not always be a lump that indicated breast cancer.

The complainant said the ad had portrayed women as if they were "ashamed of their bodies'' and queried why an ad about breast health should cover up the breasts.

In its decision, released today, the ASA's complaints board ruled there were no grounds to proceed with the complaint.

The board's chairman noted the ad did not breach the advertising code and had been prepared with a due sense of social responsibility.

"The chairman was of the view that the advertisement was clearly informing woman about breast health and contained an important safety message which outweighed the offence caused to the complainant by women's breasts being hidden.''

The chairman found that, when generally prevailing community standards were taken into account, the ad did not reach the threshold to cause serious and widespread offence to women on basis of their gender.

Watch the original ad here:

Video

The Breast Cancer Foundation had planned to remake the bare-all Scottish ad as part of its Naked Truth campaign for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

However, the Commercial Approvals Bureau warned it would likely have been classified as adults only, which meant it would only be able to run after 8.30pm.

The original Scottish ad, starring actress Elaine C. Smith, could only be shown after 9pm, but had been attributed to a doubling in the number of women contacting their doctors about the disease.

The foundation last month said a remake would have helped to push its breast-check message, but it was happy with the final ad.

ASA chief executive Helen Souter commented at the time that while bare breasts would have led to complaints, the important health message would have been taken into consideration.

- APNZ

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