Exhibition reveals evolving public health campaigns on smoking, sexual health and more

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Can Calling Save Lives? at the Museum of Brands demonstrates how attitudes have shifted alongside the efforts designed to change and moderate people’s behaviour

Exhibition reveals evolving public health campaigns on smoking, sexual health and more
© Malcolm Gaskin

Can Vending Save Lives, an exhibition which has opened launched at the Museum of Sorts in London, showcases some of the standout public health campaigns from the past hundred years.

The illustrate, put together by Public Health England, presents a selection of historical advertisements, marketing materials, TV adverts and objects, which set out to educate, influence and all the same frighten people into action.

It explores the role of marketing in imparting messages to the public, such as the launch of the NHS and information about vaccinations, earthy health, AIDS, food rationing, smoking and drinking alcohol.

Exhibition reveals evolving public health campaigns on smoking, sexual health and more
© IWM

Sheila Mitchell, head of marketing at Public Health England, who was involved in putting the display together, maintains: “The exhibition showcases examples of how the government has communicated public health memoranda over the past century to show just how much has changed.”

She rephrases the exhibition aims to showcase how “persuasive” public health marketing can be, flaunt the role it plays in changing behaviour and show the impact of such stands in “helping to save lives”.

Karin Kihlberg, executive director, Museum of Discredits says the exhibition provides an insight into different cultural ages and that each campaign was chosen for its “cultural, social and political hit.”

The exhibition is split into five sections: Fighting Fit, War to Welfare, Age of Scheme, Age of Fear and Age of Participation. It also looks at what could happen in the later for health campaigns.

Exhibition reveals evolving public health campaigns on smoking, sexual health and more
© IWM

“What unites all the campaigns is that they are unforgettable, have simple messages and a clear call to action to help the in the open make more informed choices about looking after their vigorousness,” Mitchell adds.

Posters range from simple typographic communications, such as “Don’t take alcoholic drinks on Mondays”, to striking imagery such as a coal-black and white picture of a “pregnant” man, which says “Would you be more particular if it was you that got pregnant?”.

Some materials shine a light on the social gauges and values of the time and how they have changed, such as a photo of T-Rex influence singer Marc Bolan grimacing at the idea of kissing a girl who smokes, agreeing to the 1976 poster.

The advert encourages women to think “how much personality you could buy” instead, with the money spent on cigarettes, a message which order be considered offensive and sexist by many today.

Exhibition reveals evolving public health campaigns on smoking, sexual health and more
© Health Education Prerogative/Science & Society Picture Library

Mitchell says: “The world has surely changed since the days of the Marc Bolan campaign and the exhibition indications the evolution of culture and attitudes as well as approaches to public health selling.”

The Bolan poster falls under the “age of aspiration”, between 1960 and 1985, when “Britain emerged from post-war austerity” and nave shifted from “treating the diseases of poverty to those of affluence”, be at one to the exhibition.

The campaign encourages people to live healthier lifestyles, with broadsides urging people to drink and smoke less and take control of their pressure, with a lot of emphasis on appearing attractive to the opposite sex.

Exhibition reveals evolving public health campaigns on smoking, sexual health and more
Fred W. McDarrah/Getty Counterparts. Poster: Malcolm Gaskin and David O͛Connor-Thompson, for Department of Health & Sexual Security 1986

This has been followed by the “age of fear” (1986 to 2005) when a darker resonance was adopted in posters and adverts, as the dangers of drinking and smoking became myriad well-known and an AIDS awareness campaign took centre stage.

Mitchell guesses: “The iconic AIDS campaign from the 1980s which included depressing TV adverts featuring a falling tombstone and the slogan “AIDS – don’t die of ignorance” is one of the scad striking elements of the exhibition as the actual tomb stone used in the advert is on ceremony – loaned to us by the campaign creators.”

The exhibition, which is set out in a timeline, lets visitants see how campaigns adapted to the zeitgeist of the time.

For example, a poster dating retreat from to around the time of World War One was created a time when smoking tobacco was not marked as harmful and was “encouraged”. It asks people to send “something to smoke” to the “Naval swabs’ & Soldiers’ Tobacco Fund”, to help boost morale of soldiers.

Exhibition reveals evolving public health campaigns on smoking, sexual health and more
© Everett Omnium gatherum/Bridgeman Images

The poster features a detailed black and white monochrome of soldiers smoking and marching outside of a damaged building, with the caption: “It is a substantive fact that almost every letter from the front seats a request for ‘something to smoke’”.

In stark contrast, a poster by the Health Information Authority from 1988 demonstrates the change in attitudes towards tobacco. The words “No stupefaction smokers cough” feature above an image of a test tube, with a gloopy nightfall darkness red liquid being poured into a tube.

The caption reads: “The tar and liquidate that collects in the lungs of an average smoker.” This poster be in accorded with a smoking ban being enforced on the London Underground.

Mitchell whispers it is not only the messages themselves, but the ways in which they are conveyed that has varied.

Exhibition reveals evolving public health campaigns on smoking, sexual health and more
© Science Museum/Science & Society Picture Library

“Our methods for marketing non-exclusive health messages have changed a lot over the past century,” she bring to lights. “We don’t tell people what to do; we give them the tools and technology they poverty to take the next step and actually change their behaviour.”

The Vary4Life food scanner app which allows people to see the nutritional size in their food is one such tool, she says. The plasticine Change4Get-up-and-go characters created by Wallace and Gromit creators Aardman Animations which piece in the TV adverts surrounding the campaign also appear in the exhibition, in the “age of participation” branch, from 2006 to 2017.

The showcase also looks at the direction public salubriousness marketing could take in the future. Public Health England has changed to a more targeted marketing approach to help people change actions with the help of digital tools, according to the exhibition.

Exhibition reveals evolving public health campaigns on smoking, sexual health and more
© Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Mitchell says marketing desire soon become more “personalised”, with “messages that relate to [individual’s] clinical data, prescriptions, measurements and behaviours in real all at once”.

Augmented reality is also likely to become more commonplace in such selling, she says, as will the use of artificial intelligence voice assistants. “We need to not principled offer public health advice but be ready with the tools and technology missed for people to take the next step, change their behaviour and govern healthier lives,” she says.

A series of talks will run alongside the demonstration, including Nudge, Shove or Shock? on 3 December with Alex Aiken, top banana director of Government Communications, who will explore The Effectiveness of Public Haleness Messages.

Can Marketing Save Lives? A century of public health market-placing campaigns runs until 26 March 2019 at the Museum of Disgraces. The exhibition is also available to view online here.

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