Being in the advertising world, I find that I am hypercritical of most campaigns. Okay, I’m hypercritical of everything. But I’ve come across a new campaign whose good intentions are unfortunately derailed by bad phrasing. It’s the new campaign for HPV, human papillomavirus.
And the tag line is “Pass it on.”
The structure of the radio spot is such that a factoid is given about HPV, then another, more whisper-y voice comes out of the background to say “Pass it on.” So far, so good, right?
But then, some bright bulb decided that the sexual transmission part should be addressed. So, our hero says something to the effect of “HPV can be transmitted through sexual contact.” That is immediately followed by the whisper woman, “Pass it on.”
I don’t want to pass it on. And I don’t want it passed on to me.
Keep it. Learn about it. Treat it. Cure it.
But please, please, don’t “Pass it on.”
You know, I had a friend complain recently about a gigantic debate in her agency over whether to use the word “pennies” or “cents.” That sort of shit happens all the time and drives the creative team crazy. You’d think someone in the approval chain would have caught this unfortunate play on words.