TV advert to fight breast cancer censored in New Zealand (video)

Posted Sep 30, 2013 by Anne Sewell
A ground-breaking advert, featuring comedienne and actress Elaine C Smith, was first in the UK to show real images of women's breasts affected by cancer. They wanted to use the images in New Zealand for a similar campaign, but the ad was banned.
A new breast cancer awareness campaign in New Zealand.
A new breast cancer awareness campaign in New Zealand.
The hard-hitting breast cancer campaign had to be shown after 9 pm in Scotland, but it resulted in a 50 percent increase in the number of women visiting their doctor to check their breasts.
The New Zealand Breast Cancer Foundation (NZBCF) heard how effective the campaign was, and wanted to use images of breasts from the Scottish advert as part of a campaign there (the video can be watched here).
Part of a Scottish breast cancer awareness campaign video.
Part of a Scottish breast cancer awareness campaign video.
However, New Zealand's Commercial Approval Bureau (CAB) said no, it is not possible to air the images, as nipples are not permitted in TV adverts in New Zealand.
For this reason, the NZBCF had to utilize strategically placed balloons, cupcakes and pot plants in their new Naked Truth campaign (in the video) at the top of this article.
According to Van Henderson, NZBCF chief executive, they wanted to use the photos from the Scottish adverts to ensure that women knew more about the signs of breast cancer.
She told the media: "Around half of the breast cancers in New Zealand are first detected through a symptom that the woman notices, yet only 5% of women are aware that puckering or dimpling of the skin can be a symptom, and only 2% know an inverted nipple may mean breast cancer."
"We believe the importance of knowing all the signs and symptoms far outweighs the CAB's concern, and we wanted women to know exactly what those signs look like."
A new breast cancer awareness campaign in New Zealand.
A new breast cancer awareness campaign in New Zealand.
The advert stresses the fact that lumps are not the only sign that someone may have breast cancer. Women are urged to check for other signs, such as unusual pain in their breast, a change in breast size or shape, dimpling, reddening or puckering and also any change in their nipples.
The advert was first shown in Scotland in September last year, with Rab C Nesbitt star Smith holding a series of placards showing images of breasts affected by cancer. In the three months following the start of this campaign, 21,000 women contacted their doctor about possible breast cancer symptoms. This was an increase of 50% on the 13,900 who did so in the same period of 2011.
The Mirror reports that an Edinburgh woman, 54-year-old Janet Brodie, visited her GP after seeing the advert as she realized that she had some of the signs. As a result, five tumors were found and she is now in recovery after having two operations, chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
Brodie said: "That advert saved my life."
She went on to praise the ad campaign for its "different" approach, saying it was "so straight to the point, you were in no doubt what you were looking for".
"It caught my attention because I really like Elaine C Smith. I had been experiencing pain in my breast but I didn't think it could be cancer until the advert."
Brodie said it was "quite tragic" that the images could not be shown in New Zealand.
She said: "We're in the 21st century and if it helps one person to go to their doctor and do what they've got to do, if it saves one person's life, it should be shown."
According to Scottish Health Secretary Alex Neil, he was "extremely thankful" that the Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice code had "understood the important role public health campaigns play in getting people talking about breast cancer and making them more aware of the signs and symptoms".
He said: "By airing this advert, the first ad in the UK to show real pictures of women's breasts with visible signs of breast cancer, Scotland has led the way with innovative and thought-provoking public health campaigns."
"We created this campaign to address the stark fact that breast cancer that affects more women in Scotland than any cancer type. We know that the earlier a cancer is diagnosed the easier it is to treat and as women themselves play an important part in early detection, it is vital that they know how to spot the signs of breast cancer."
"We took a bold approach to our breast cancer campaign as we recognized that women can often be confused about what to look for and we wanted to get the message across that lumps aren't the only sign of breast cancer."
Regrettably the New Zealand version of the advert, featured above, will probably not have anything like the same impact.