Friday, 12 May 2023

Find the gap?


A recent campaign from Nurofen has alerted me to a whole rich seam of Home-Grown Problem: Solution advertising that brands can dig into. An appropriate metaphor, as this is all about digging your own gap, and presenting your brand as the superhero that’s going to come along and right all wrongs and injustices.

It all started, probably, with Equal Pay Day and the Gender Pay Gap, which I remember working on with IKEA back in the 2000s. Nothing wrong whatsoever with bringing this inequality to public attention. Equal Pay Day itself was set as how far into the year women must work for nothing to be on the same standing as men. It’s cheering that the date has moved forwards from 26th March in 2010 to 7th March this year. Still work to be done, but good progress.

Now, back to Nurofen. This brand has discovered a “Gender Pain Gap” and created a campaign called “See My Pain” to help to close it. According to Campaign, “Fifty per cent of women feel ignored or dismissed by their GP when it comes to their pain compared to 36% of men.”

Aha! A villain of the piece - UK GPs. A quick search and I found that in the UK, 55% of GPs are female and 45% are male. Hmmm. If I was a  GP and had studied for years to get there, I don’t think I’d take kindly to brand and advertising people giving me a lecture about being sexist and ignoring women’s pain.

It doesn’t help that the creative execution is painful in the extreme. All the usual suspects are there in the film: plinky piano music, tearful testimonials, “victims” telling their authentic stories. And on the website, there’s a ghastly line that looks as if it has escaped from a potboiler paperback in the bargain bookshop’s sale: 5 Women. 5 Stories. 1 Painful Truth.

It’s the sort of thing that feels like a parody and makes me ashamed to be in advertising.

Unfortunately, Campaign is behind a very expensive paywall (a topic for another time) but reading the list of credits for the campaign, my jaw dropped. I won’t name the agency as you can look it up, but it’s one that has a main bit and a specialist health bit. Credits used to mention the main people who created and produced a film. But just looking at my line of work, the following were named from the main agency: Head of Planning, Planning Partner, Planning Director, Planner. Then from the health agency: Planning Director, Senior Strategist - Social Sciences, Senior Expert Strategist. 

7 Planners. 7 Excessive Salaries. 1 Crap Commercial?

Going back to those gaps. Yes, seek and ye shall find. Gaps, seams, unlevel playing fields. All humans are vulnerable to injustices of one sort or another. 

But that doesn’t make us all victims.  

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