Tonic Life ready to tackle taboo topics

Healthcare specialist Tonic Life Communications is launching a division that will handle PR around 'taboo' subjects.

TonicTaboo will be headed up by associate director Louise Collins and will deal with comms around conditions such as erectile dysfunction, vaginal dryness and urinary incontinence. It will have the strapline 'We're comfortable with the uncomfortable'.

Five staff have been assigned to the division part-time, but it may be expanded if there is significant client demand.

'It is well documented that influencing behaviour is intrinsically linked with the style of language and communication approach used,' said Collins. 'This is even more true for sensitive or delicate subject areas where there is already a certain level of discomfort or embarrassment.'

Tonic has worked with brands in sensitive areas before to help break down barriers. Current clients include pharma firm GlaxoSmithKline for breast cancer and Nova Nordisk for vaginal dryness.

The new division will take on these clients, and will work to help address uncomfortable situations such as communicating a breast cancer diagnosis to an employer. 'The division is as much about psychology and human understanding as it is about science and health,' said Collins. The division will seek advice from psychologists, academics, researchers and linguists.

Tonic co-founder Oliver Parsons denied that the division was being launched in a bid to attract new clients in a tough economic climate. Rather, he said, it was 'in response to Tonic evolving its offering on an ongoing basis to suit client needs'.

TonicTaboo will sit between the agency's lifescience and lifestyle divisions. Its launch will be closely followed by TechTonic, a specialised digital advisory division that tracks digital trends and online communications vehicles. The agency will also launch MomComms, a multi- disciplinary advisory panel focused purely on providing insight and guidance on childhood health, nutrition and development.

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