Breast Cancer Foundation apologises for trendjacking ad gone wrong

Trendjacking is not a new concept to advertisers. If done well, a brand intent on trendjacking could gain a lot of attention from viewers, or even go viral. However, it could also backfire on the brand if done poorly. Placing this case in point are two of Singapore’s Breast Cancer Foundation’s recent ads, which used the trend of masking up and staying in to promote breast cancer awareness and prevention.

One of the ads which raised eyebrows had the caption: “To stop the spread, mask up. For your breasts, go up, down, in, out and all around.” The other said: “Staying home saves lives. Heading out saves breasts,” to encourage women to go for mammograms and regular self examination. The ad resulted in netizens scratching their head over the messaging with several calling it confusing and others questioning how the ad even got clearance to run in the first place. The ad was first called out by local theatre actress Pam Oei, who took to her Facebook page to express her confusion of the ads. According to Oei, the ads were placed at her lift lobby. Oei's post has garnered 167 reactions, 95 comments, and 165 shares, at the time of writing.

The Breast Cancer Foundation has since left a comment thanking netizens for their honest feedback and sharing its intent behind it. According to the organisation, the ads were done in an attempt to be proactive in the fight against breast cancer. It came around as many women were seen to be postponing their mammograms due to the Circuit Breaker and stay-home advisories.

“Since everyone’s attention has been on COVID-19, we decided to leverage that to remind people about breast cancer – another health crisis that also needs urgent attention. The juxtaposition between COVID-19 and mammogram/breast self-examination advice is meant to intrigue people to read on and scan our QR code (located within the same media panel) to know more,” the statement said.

The organisation also apologised for causing any confusion or offence to anyone. It added that it will definitely take the feedback into consideration for future campaigns. “It’s always challenging to talk about breasts, or breast cancer awareness for that matter. But we welcome the challenge and will keep doing our best to spread this important life-saving message,” the organisation’s spokesperson added.

To its response, several netizens also said that although they understood the intentions of the organisation, the ad is still one which is rather poorly done. One netizen added that the fact that the organisation had to post a lengthy explanation about its campaign message is perhaps proof that the advertising effort did not work. MARKETING-INTERACTIVE has reached out to the Breast Cancer Foundation for a statement.

In previous conversations with MARKETING-INTERACTIVE, industry players have warned brands that when it comes to trendjacking, they need to ensure the trend is a good fit for the brand. According to Freda Kwok, head of strategy and social media at digital agency Germs, said there needs to be a review of topics that are complementary to the brand personality. "Brands should not jump on every trending bandwagon. Research on the origins of the trend is also important to avoid misaligned associations," Kwok said.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson from creative agency Wild Advertising & Marketing, said the connection between the trend and the company should not feel like too much of a stretch. If it does not closely align with the brand, the company may be accused of simply creating "clickbait". This is considered an off-putting and cheap tactic to increase views, and can leave consumers with a poor impression of the brand.

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(Photo courtesy: Pam Oei)

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