Sshhh, it’s taboo!

18th October 2019

Clearcast on Festival of Marketing panel, discussing taboo products

Seb Lynch, Copy Development Manager

A major part of my role is to help agencies and their clients whose products or services are in complex or contentious areas, by working carefully through their copy and creative early on and helping to develop their ad into a version acceptable for TV .

I was invited to speak on a panel at last week’s Festival of Marketing called ‘Marketing the Unmarketable: Creating appropriate content for taboo products’. It was great to have the opportunity to speak to a room full of marketeers alongside representatives from TheDrug.Store, an online CBD retailer; LELO, an intimate lifestyle brand; and Essity, who own the feminine care brand Bodyform.

The other panellists discussed the challenges they face in trying to advertise their products across different platforms and in different parts of the world. I explained that the most challenging rules for advertising taboo products on TV in the UK are those that say ads should not be socially irresponsible or cause serious or widespread offence.

Naturally the panel talked about how keen they are for the regulations to relax and I suggested societal boundaries can move and what people consider offensive can change, so over time we become more open to things that might once have been too taboo for TV, like period blood or sex toys for example.

I explained Clearcast’s open-door policy to advertisers and agencies regardless of what product is being advertised or what kind of creative execution is proposed. We can’t promise to approve every taboo-busting campaign that comes along (a success story to refer to here is Bodyform’s multi-award winning Viva La Vulva campaign), but our Copy Development service gives people the chance to discuss creative with us very early and then get our help in shaping ads to ensure they get broadcast. This is a key part of our remit to help get ads to air.

As Marina Poulopati, Essity’s Global Marketing and Communications Director put it during the panel discussion, whilst talking about her experience of working with us on the Viva La Vulva campaign: “It’s important to look to broadcast authorities like Clearcast and work with them as partners.”

Our Copy Development service offers concept advice and claims assessment, face-to-face sessions, edit review and anything else you might need whilst developing your copy. Click here to find out more or email