It was January of 2016, and the Yukon Government of Canada’s communication team had just launched a new public awareness campaign intended to increase vitamin D consumption. The end result shed light on an alarming trend in communication practices: the harmful effects of creative conservatism.
While vitamin D consumption may seem trivial to many, in the territory’s near-arctic geography, the amount of sunlight per day can drop to a staggering low of six hours, causing a significant decrease in natural vitamin D intake for all residents. If allowed to drop for too long and to low enough levels, this vitamin D deficiency can cause a multitude of major health issues, negatively impacting the wellbeing of the territory’s people and economy as a whole.
So, what happened that has me raising the communication red flag? An unintended reference to male genitalia in the campaign’s creative headline.
Actually, I should be more specific, as it isn’t the genital reference that concerns me. Instead, it’s the reaction to this reference that makes me question the true motive of the decision makers involved. You see, once the humorous reference hit the public airways, it set off a storm of backlash and criticism over how those involved could have approved the message, how they could have been naive enough to not “get” the reference and how the government of the territory could allow for such an embarrassment to happen. This “public humiliation” grew so large so quickly that the campaign was pulled after just one day.
Unfortunately, amid all of this controversy, those condemning the ignorance of the campaign and those hastily trying to protect reputation forgot to stop and ask an unbelievably simple,...
This content is available to IABC members only. To continue reading, log in below.