Marketing the unmentionable


Why skirt around embarrassing issues when dealing with something as important as cancer detection?


We recently read an interesting article on The Marketer’s fantastic new website that got us talking.  The piece, by Philip Graves titled Marketing the Unmentionable, looked at the psychology of embarrassment and how marketers could use that to drive home important messages.

From our perspective sometimes it’s essential that marketing approaches don’t skirt round embarrassing issues – especially where health products and services are involved.

In recent months we have been talking to hundreds of people a day on the street about “blood in their poo” for a Department of Health campaign.  The approach is designed to encourage the public to think and act when they spot the symptoms of bowel cancer.

This tactic may seem little uneasy on the eyes and could be seen as something that would make the public turn and flee, but at the route of it blood in poo is actually a telling symptom of bowel cancer.  So why avoid saying it?

What’s interesting is just how receptive the general public has been to this honest, straight-talking face-to-face campaign. Often taking the first step to facing embarrassing problems is the biggest barrier. Providing people with a friendly, knowledgeable ear during their daily routine makes it easier for people to ask questions and address concerns – either for themselves or a friend and family member.

In an age where consumers are increasingly sceptical of organisations that paint over real issues, a little honest face to face conversation can go a very long way in building consumer trust.

Author bio


With nearly 30 years of marketing experience, both client and agency side, I’ve acquired a rare perspective on brands and business: I believe you have to challenge things creatively if you want to grow sales. Consumer technology is reshaping our world, and it’s only the great brands that stay on the crest.