The Problematics of Cervical Cancer Advertisements

The recently launched (and extremely aggressive) marketing campaign against Cervical Cancer has caught Sama’s attention. This GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) sponsored “public awareness campaign” bears distinct resemblance to a previous campaign by MSD (Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp.) with the caption ‘Guard Yourself’. Interestingly, both the advertisements do not disclose the name of the vaccine. Moreover, there is no mention of contraindications or side effects.

The print ads for these campaigns invariably feature a smiling (and presumably loving) mother-daughter pair. The latest cervical cancer ad by GSK carries sub-headings giving information and prompting action. This campaign is much more aggressive than MSD’s previous one, and is running full-page ads in leading national dailies and sending smses through country-wide networks. The ad supplies a sobering statistic on cervical cancer, putting it ahead of breast cancer as a leading killer for women. It announces the ‘Good News’ that vaccination can protect ‘our daughters’ from Cervical Cancer. The dosage required is mentioned, along with urgent slogans and affirmations such as ‘Act today!’ and ‘It’s true!’ What is missing again is the name of the vaccine, contraindications, side effects etc.

The MSD advertisements would carry on in a similar vein, asking you to know, do and give, as much as you can, to protect your loved ones from cervical cancer. The ad provided information under headings like ‘It can happen to you’, ‘Know the relation between HPV and cervical cancer’ and ‘How is HPV contracted?’ The ad concluded with a message imploring the reader to consult her doctor for protection. These also appeared on TV channels. Throughout, the name of the vaccine being so obviously promoted, was conspicuous by its absence.