I was in Edinburgh with a group of friends last weekend and we were stopped in our tracks on the first day by this:
No, not an ad for a women’s mag, it’s an ad for breast augmentation. From the national, respectable chain of private hospitals Spire Healthcare (who used to be Bupa Hospitals). Who want to sell you BOOB JOBS, as ‘same day surgery’ that is ‘more affordable than you think’.
There is so much wrong here I hardly know where to start. Perhaps I should take my lead from the groups of women I saw throughout the weekend standing in front of these posters (about half a dozen around the city centre) with their mouths hanging open in disbelief.
You could argue that the kind of women who are in the market for an affordable boob job are probably going to be attracted rather than offended by this ad. But to my mind this is outweighed by the damage it inflicts on both the hospital and the wider Spire Healthcare brands.
I really struggled to believe that Spire’s marketing team would sign off on something so a) unprofessional and b) inappropriate (gold lame stripper boob tube, anyone?). So I rang their press office. Who admitted that they had no idea the posters existed and eventually redirected me to the head of media and marketing at the Edinburgh hospital.
I had a very interesting chat with her – the posters were a result of taking 7 or 8 concepts into focus groups with their (younger) target market and “this route came back by far as the favourite”.
I did ask her whether she was concerned about the effect on their wider brand but she said that they haven’t had any feedback that anyone had been “very offended” by it so far and they had been into town and hadn’t actually seen anyone looking shocked by the posters, but of course do take all feedback into consideration…