'Smear Word' campaign for Roche aims to break taboos and save lives

An all-female team at Mind+Matter has created a campaign for Roche that takes a tongue-in-cheek approach to tackle taboos about going for a smear test.

'The Smear Word' campaign film aims to tackle taboos and overcome fears of taking the test
'The Smear Word' campaign film aims to tackle taboos and overcome fears of taking the test

The month-long ‘The Smear Word’ campaign, which launched this week, is centred on a three-minute film that depicts a young woman going for her first smear test. 

It provides simple facts about what is involved in the cervical screening, in a scenario in which a young woman repeatedly makes asides to the camera about aspects of the smear test she is worried about. These are addressed by the nurse in the film, who explains to the viewer what is involved.

Cervical screening prevents at least 2,000 deaths in the UK each year, according to Cancer Research UK.

Women aged between 25 and 29 are the target audience of the new campaign, which aims to encourage them to attend screening appointments. Many young women do not turn up for appointments, which puts them at risk of early signs of cervical cancer being missed.

The all-female team behind the campaign. (Pic credit: Constance Doyle)
The all-female team behind the campaign. (Pic credit: Constance Doyle)


Currently, one in four young women fails to show up for screening appointments. The campaign is urging women to call their GP to book an appointment without delay, with another key message being that spending a few minutes having a smear test could save your life – with cervical cancer highly preventable through regular screening and vaccination.

The campaign is combining social and earned media along with paid activity, such as adverts on Spotify, Facebook, and Instagram to drive people to visit a campaign website that features the film. 

Paid activity is being targeted in areas of the UK where a high proportion of young women are not going for screening, such as the North East, North West, Yorkshire & Humber, West Midlands and East of England.

Claudette Malone, Roche client lead at Mind+Matter, said: “Cervical screening is one of those topics that is never discussed, and yet would greatly benefit so many people around the world if we addressed anxieties, uncovered what actually takes place at appointments and raise the importance of this screening.”

She added: “From the moment we kicked off this campaign with the team at Roche Diagnostics, we knew this was an opportunity to do something different, start much-needed conversations, empower women and people with a cervix to own their health and have the confidence to go for their smear tests.”


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