Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Nova Scotia consent ads take heat for blunt sexual language

A campaign about consent by the government of Nova Scotia has provoked mixed reactions from the very groups it hopes to champion, in the post-Rehtaeh conversation about consent and rape culture.

According to the CBC, Sherri Bain, an advocate for survivors of assault, questioned the approach:
"Their design team, I think, missed the mark,” she said. She worries the message could be misinterpreted. 
"For someone driving by, if they're seeing 'take me' and 'do me,' I'm concerned that it may do exactly the opposite of what they're intending," she said. "Our city needs to find another way to advertise besides being so overtly sexual."
A later article adds:
...since the ads have gone up, some young women and groups that work with victims of sexual violence have complained in media reports that they don't explain clearly enough that consent from someone who has been drinking or taking drugs does not qualify as true consent for sex.

Via Global

Global News also posted this shot of the call-to-action from the posters:

The campaign site, novascotia.ca/ask, positions information about drugs and alcohol very prominently.

The ads were created by Communications Nova Scotia (the Chronicle-Herald says Stir Creative) following focus group research with male and female youth. While one woman participant has come forward to say she was assured the ads would never run, the findings from the male groups convinced Marilyn More, Nova Scotia's minister of labour and advanced education, to stand by the campaign:
"They told us this is the kind of campaign they would respond to, [that] it made a difference in how they thought about consent for sexual activity," she said. 
"Quite frankly, I don't think there is a perfect ad campaign that means the same to everyone in this province but we had to start somewhere."
Personally, I'm not in love with the art direction of these ads. But the fact that they have people in national mainstream media talking about the complexities of sexual consent is a "win" as far as social marketing goes. I only wish the province had released the posters in full, so those media wouldn't have to run smartphone shots of the creative.

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