When you are scrolling through an endless Instagram feed of clothing ads that look the same, seeing a pink organza dupatta, adorned with pink ribbons and floating in the air, highlighting breast cancer rates in Pakistan may hold your attention.
According to one of the captions on social media, Generation’s latest campaign Parday Mein Parwah, co-created by Ali Xeeshan and BBDO Pakistan, aims to “bring to life a dupatta that reminds and instructs women to check themselves.”
Such campaigns are relevant because despite the progress modern medicine has made, Pakistan still has the highest rates of breast cancer in Asia; one in nine women suffer from the disease every year and over 50% succumb to it.
“In a country like Pakistan, where you hear horror stories about how women thought there was something wrong with their breasts, but never got it checked out of fear of being shamed, it's so important to see a brand like Generation making it okay to say the words breast cancer.” says Sabahbano Malik, a journalist and occasional model for Generation.
The objectives of the campaign are to fight social stigmas associated with cancer and raise money to fund medical research and expenses; all profits will to Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital & Research Centre (SKMCH) for research.
This is not the first time Generation has targeted social issues or breast cancer awareness.
“We have worked with Pink Ribbon in the past, raising funds, coming up with pledge campaigns urging women to self examine and to educate women around them to do the same; we produced an instructional video for self-examination that went viral,” says Harris Masood, Brand Strategist, Lead Stylist and Senior Designer, Generation. The dupatta comes with “instructions for a thorough self-examination vetted by SKMCH”.
“We collaborated with Asma Nabeel (CEO, Pink Warrior Films and a “Breast Cancer Warrior” who recently passed away), who generously donated her poetry to be featured on the dupatta. We hope more survivors will come forward and share their stories through this dupatta and spread awareness,” says Ali Rez, Regional Executive Creative Director, Impact BBDO.
The reactions to the campaign are both positive and negative; although most people seemed to have appreciated the initiative, a few comments have not been complimentary.
“Awarness dein laikin kisi decent way say bhi di ja sakti hy” states one comment under an image of Nabeel holding a pink dupatta.
Atiya Zaidi, Managing Director, BBDO says: “The fantastic idea our creatives came up with was to use the very symbol of modesty [a duppatta] to break the taboo around breast cancer.”
Masood elaborates: “There are many stigmas attached to the word ‘breast’ in our society, and so much value given to the length of a woman’s hair. An image of a woman who has had cancer, who is being celebrated for her bravery, her courage and who wears her baldness with pride and grace is undeniably empowering,” Masood says.
Anmol Irfan is a freelance journalist and Founder, Perspective Magazine.