Five annoying awareness-raising ads

Every week, spiked plus will provide a Bunch of Five - a Top Five, sometimes of good things, sometimes not-so-good things. This week, it’s the not-so-good: the Top Five worst awareness-raising campaigns.

#5. The ‘This is Abuse’ campaign is certainly a shocking portrait of teenage sexuality. A teenage boy has taken a girl into a room at a party and is trying to have sex with her. That’s not the shocking part. No, what’s shocking is that his identical twin is watching all this from behind a thick sheet of perspex which has, for some reason, been installed in the boy’s room. The less literal-minded among you will recognise this bafflingly clever-but-subtle device as a way of representing the boy’s conscience, hence the tagline, ‘if you could see yourself’. But what’s shocking is not the crap symbolism, but the government’s attempt to transform all the awkwardness and fraught experimentation of teenage relationships into something positively sinister, something that needs to be watched, observed and monitored. Presumably by someone from behind a sheet of perspex.

#4. If you’re looking for examples of government-funded, guilt-inducing, prejudice-cultivating ‘public awareness’ campaigns, the government’s war on smokers offers a veritable treasure trove. But rather than opt for one in which smokers are portrayed as disgusting cretins, puffing away on a tumour or a tube of fat, or selfish cretins, exhaling their death-bed guilt to camera, here’s one from the 1980s in which a creepy looking cretin breathes smoke into a baby’s cot. Because that’s what smokers are: evil. And cretins.

#3. In recent years, successive governments have decided that what’s ‘good’ for smokers is ‘good’ for drinkers, too. Drinking is not a normal part of adult social life, we are told; it is a disgusting habit undertaken by disgusting people. This government campaign, with the tagline ‘you wouldn’t start a night like that, so why end it that way?’, attempts to show us just how vile people going out on the lash are. They ladder their tights, they puke over themselves, and, if there’s room for another stain, they have a little piddle on themselves, too. The idea that getting gently steaming with friends is not only a choice but can be good fun, too, clearly remains an anathema to the ever-so abstemious ones ensconced in the myriad bars of Westminster.

#2. Here, from the state-funded Cabwise, is a bit of shameless fearmongering about minicab drivers. They’re not looking for a bit of cash in return for taking people home on an evening. No, they are looking for women to rape. Be afraid, be very afraid. Or better still, treat such suspicion-spreading rubbish with the contempt it deserves.

#1. This wouldn’t be a list of the worst awareness-raising campaigns without a bit of climate-change alarmism, a cause about which the public is aware but increasingly unexcited. And that’s not for want of elite attempts to persuade us otherwise. This offering from 10:10, a quango-backed campaign group, was created by Four Weddings and a Funeral director Richard Curtis, so perhaps it isn’t that surprising that it turns stomachs rather than raises awareness. Still, at least it has the advantage of revealing exactly how the environmentally committed would like to deal with anyone sceptical about sustainability initiatives, recycling targets or the virtues of home composting. Enjoy.


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