Contraception Promotion Campaign Sparks Controversy

It takes something pretty special to enter the ‘battle of the sexes’ and manage to upset both sides, but that seems to be exactly what the Korean Ministry of Health and Welfare seem to have done with their new promotional campaign aimed at getting women to be more proactive in using contraceptives with the end goal of reducing the country’s abortion rate.


The ad itself features a young woman holding onto her slightly hen-pecked looking man holding onto her handbag and shopping with the tagline suggesting that, while women might leave everything else to men they shouldn’t leave contraception up to them.

It’s hard to fault the intentions of the campaign, but, although the message was well intended, the execution leaves a lot to be desired. As a marketing professional, one wonders about the meeting of middle-aged men in a smoke-filled bar that must have come up with this particular concept. It simultaneously manages to paint women as both helpless and exploitative while suggesting that men are feckless bag-carriers who can’t be trusted to take contraception seriously.

You also have to wonder if there is an underlying message to women telling them ‘If you get pregnant, it’s your own fault – don’t blame the man’.

The poster seems to have managed to upset and offend women and men in equal measure, so maybe it has managed to achieve some level of equality at least, but messages like this do nothing to encourage women (or men) to share the responsibility for contraception.

Perhaps a more empowering message suggesting that modern, independent women choose take control of their own contraceptive options, or messaging aimed at removing social stigmas around women and contraception might have been nearer the mark?

For their part, it seems the Ministry have removed the posters and are working on an alternative. Let’s hope Plan B is more on-target than this attempt.

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