Bold billboards challenge breast cancer sex taboos
UK – London streets now host provocative billboards with the message 'Cancer won't be the last thing that f*cks me', commissioned by GirlvsCancer and created by advertising agency Bartle Bogle Hegarty (BBH) London. The striking campaign aims to combat stigma and misinformation around cancer and intimacy.
While Cancer Research UK statistics reveal that half of the UK population will experience cancer in their lifetime, the project also addresses the fact that more than 60% of women with cancer encounter sexual dysfunction.
The initiative, which originated in 2021 when a BBH staffer learned about sex toys designed for women with cancer, includes three short films and a series of billboards. The films feature women in different stages of their cancer journey discussing their experiences and sexual pleasure.
GirlvsCancer founder Lauren Mahon envisions expanding the conversation to dating apps in 2024, to empower those who've been through cancer to embrace pleasure and intimacy. The movement not only seeks to raise awareness but to create a growing and evolving resource for those who've experienced cancer.
In Unrefined Intimacy, we previously analysed how the visual narrative of sex and pleasure is being reset for a new era of raw, confrontational and inclusive advertising, communications and experiences.
The GirlvsCancer campaign demonstrates that bold messaging that empowers and educates, rather than focuses on miserabilism and empathy for cancer patients, can have a powerful impact. How can you use empowerment and inclusivity in your marketing efforts?
The Cult of Beauty exhibition examines beauty standards across history
UK – While beauty is subjective, it is also deeply ingrained in society. The Cult of Beauty exhibition explores notions of beauty across time and cultures – questioning the established norms and reflecting on more inclusive definitions of beauty for the future.
Opened on 26 October at London’s Wellcome Collection, the free exhibition features more than 200 objects and artworks curated by Janice Li around three themes: The Ideals of Beauty, The Industry of Beauty and Subverting Beauty. Historical objects such as corsets and combs for textured hair invite visitors to reflect on beauty canons and their impact on our mental and physical wellbeing. They also portray cultural traditions and celebrate beauty trailblazers.
‘The Cult of Beauty is an invitation to widen and complicate our understanding of beauty beyond the binaries of beautiful or ugly, natural or artificial, physical or digital,’ explains Li. ‘It is a space that allows for multiple polarities, seeing beauty at both ends and everywhere in between.’
In our Beauty section, we are tracking how beauty narratives are evolving and impacting industry trends and consumer behaviour.
Reflect on the beauty standards and ideals you are promoting within your business – consciously or unconsciously. How can you tap into the trending aesthetics while portraying under-represented consumer groups?
AI company Realeyes collaborates with actors for AI emotion study
US – During a period of strikes by Hollywood writers (between May and September 2023) and actors (since July 2023), AI company Realeyes embarked on an AI emotion study involving actors to develop AI that could recognise and replicate human emotions. Realeyes, known for its work in evaluating advertising effectiveness, paid actors £123 ($150, €142) per hour to provide emotional expressions in a controlled environment. The study, which ran from July to September, was conducted in collaboration with tech giant Meta.
While Realeyes reassured participants that their individual likenesses wouldn't be used commercially, questions remain about the broad implications of their contributions.
This endeavour underscores the challenges facing the entertainment industry as it navigates the influence of AI in creative processes. While unions are negotiating regulations for AI use in creative work, tech companies including Meta and Realeyes continue to push boundaries in AI research, potentially raising questions about consent and intellectual property rights for actors and other individuals.
As explored in The Future of Responsible AI, the question is not whether AI can replace humans (and actors) but what role we play in ensuring that AI does not irreversibly harm humanity.
The next step for AI is to become more emotionally intelligent, hence the necessity for Realeyes to train its technology with real actors. How can you develop AI algorithms that take consumers' emotional states into consideration? For instance, by suggesting calming content when a user is stressed
Stat: Climate tech funding faces significant market challenges
Global – Climate tech investment has faced a challenging landscape, with funding for start-ups and initiatives decreasing by more than 40%, to £53.56bn ($65bn, €61.48bn) in the year ending 30 September 2023, according to a report by professional services network PwC. Factors contributing to this decline include geopolitical turmoil, inflation, rising interest rates and lower valuations affecting tech investments overall. However, the urgency for climate tech solutions remains high, following record-hot months and a scorching summer worldwide.
One area resilient to the downturn is carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS), notably backed by the fossil fuel industry. Some optimism endures as climate tech’s share of the start-up investment market has increased to more than 11% in the same period. New investors continue to enter the field and government initiatives, such as the Inflation Reduction Act in the US, offer grants and incentives to support green technologies.
Investors are now urging climate tech start-ups to focus on addressing real-world issues as discussed in The Future of Ethical Banking and understanding their target consumers’ needs to help find sustainable solutions.
Given the resilience of CCUS to market fluctuations, how could you invest in or collaborate with companies involved in carbon capture and storage technologies?