“No nipples on TV”: inventive breast cancer campaign finds a way around the rules

October 1, 2013

The New Zealand Breast Cancer Foundation’s plan to show the full range of breast cancer symptoms in its October awareness campaign received a setback when the Commercial Approvals Bureau (CAB) advised the NZBCF that nipples are not permitted in TV advertising.

The Foundation was forced to find a creative way to convey a message it deems vital, given that research shows few women are aware of breast cancer symptoms beyond a “lump”. 

“Around half of the breast cancers in New Zealand are first detected through a symptom that the woman notices,” said Van Henderson, chief executive at the NZBCF. “Yet only 5% of women are aware that puckering or dimpling of the skin can be a symptom, and only 2% know an inverted nipple may mean breast cancer. We believe the importance of knowing all the signs and symptoms far outweighs the CAB’s concern, and we wanted women to know exactly what those signs look like.”

Constrained by the “no nipples” ruling, the NZ Breast Cancer Foundation worked with agency Colenso BBDO to develop The Naked Truth, in which strategically-positioned pot plants, balloons and cupcakes illustrate symptoms such as skin changes, changes in size, and redness.


“The images are beautiful, and very strong. We hope they’ll grab women’s attention and make them aware that any change is worth telling your GP about,” said Mrs Henderson.

The Naked Truth campaign, which will screen throughout October, urges women to report any changes to their doctor and invites them to visit a new website, www.anychanges.co.nz , for more education about the signs and symptoms.

The symptoms all women aged 20 and over should be aware of include:

-          a new lump or thickening in the breast or armpit area

-          a change in breast shape or size

-          a pain in the breast that is unusual

-          a change in the skin of the breast, areola or nipple, e.g. colour, dimpling, puckering or reddening

-          any change in the nipple, e.g. a turned-in nipple or a discharge

Women should report these changes to their GP as soon as possible, as early detection saves lives.