Opinion: Newland on ... Sexual Health

Forensic psychologists, apparently, hate having to put themselves in the mind of a murderer; they find it disturbing. My professional equivalent is having to put myself in the mind of a teenager. But understanding the ignorance, confusion, insecurity and angst of a teenager is required for any analysis of Delaney Lund Knox Warren & Partners' campaign for sexual health.

It was covered in the news section of last week's issue, and I bet if any parents among you left your copy of Campaign lying around to be idly flicked through by a distracted teenager, they will have stopped in their tracks at page seven. There it is in all its unabashed Viz-ness: a woman with huge breasts talking about a magnificent cock.

The campaign's highly targeted media strategy, by Naked Communications, means that most of you won't see the rest of the campaign. It's equally titillating: one shows a man included in a big breast competition because his bollocks are so inflamed, another features a woman telling a man over a game of beach volleyball that she has warts on her cervix.

There's a holiday theme to each ad, no doubt to catch the youngsters at their most promiscuous. They use the line: "Don't play the sex lottery this summer. Use a condom." I like the use of the lottery theme.

It's menacing: maybe you'll catch an STD, maybe you won't.

The eye-catching tits, arse and bollocks are a cheap trick. The ads also put key words in capital letters: "CERVIX", "COCK", "GONORRHOEA". It's what DLKW does well. The agency surprises consumers so they notice its ads (often by using singing and dancing, such as in its Halifax and Capital Radio ads).

In this case the smut provokes just enough attention to get its audience to read a sexual health warning. It's not creative, but it's effective.

Where creativity comes in with this campaign is in its media strategy.

Naked and DLKW have had to make a £3 million budget go very far. The campaign launched with scratchcards two years ago. They went on to produce some Valentine-themed ads with the line: "I love you so much it hurts ... when I pee." The latest campaign will appear in the tabloid press and as postcards (complementing the holiday theme).

In the past, the campaign has relied on PR to enhance its limited budget, but there's less material for PR this time. Equally, the newest ads have less potential as talking points among their target audience than their predecessors.

This latest work is less sophisticated than previous campaigns, but for that will probably talk to a wider audience. And talking to a wider audience is what the Government needs to do.

The rise in STDs made headline news at the end of July, when the Health Protection Agency released a report warning that Britain faced an STD epidemic. Cases of gonorrhoea rose by 109 per cent between 1996 and 2002.

Chlamydia, similarly, rose by 139 per cent in the same period. As a result the Government is considering raising its £3 million budget to a level that will ensure more young people are aware of the dangers.

The campaign so far has had a kind of underground feel to it, because of the limited budget. A massive cash injection would require new thinking. A TV equivalent of the current campaign wouldn't get through the regulators, while serious ads warning of the dangers of unprotected sex could easily alienate the target audience.

Dead cert for a Pencil? In the Benny Hill awards for advertising


File under ... E for eye-catching.

What would the chairman's wife say? "Those ads are a little raunchy,

aren't they?"

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