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Sexual Consent Ads Ditch the Metaphors and Go Right to the Talking Cartoon Genitals No 'dancing around the topic'

A well-received video made the rounds last fall that addressed the issue of sexual consent through a metaphor of drinking tea. Based on copy written by blogger Rockstar Dinosaur Pirate Princess, it was lauded for its clear take on a thorny issue.

But was it not clear enough? Do metaphors just cloud the issue? And does talking around a topic, and not actually talking about it, reinforce its taboo, thus undermining the message?

Project Consent, a nonprofit, volunteer-based campaign to combat rape culture, prefers a more straightforward approach. And it's gotten one from Toronto agency Juniper Park\TBWA—via a series of videos in which animated genitals and other body parts simply act out consent scenarios.

It's certainly a bit more shocking than the "Tea and Consent" video.



"If you look at other campaigns around consent, they tend to speak in analogies," Terry Drummond, chief creative officer at Juniper Park\TBWA, tells Strategy magazine. "It's always saying it's like this other thing. But no, it's not about those other things. It's about sexual consent, and these are the most relevant characters in that conversation, so why aren't we saying and showing what it is?"

"It's simple and addresses consent without dancing around the topic," adds Project Consent founder Sara Li. "It makes it easier to talk about, like it should be, for students or teachers or parents. It should be approachable and direct and easy to see what is and isn't appropriate."

Some might says the ads themselves aren't appropriate—that they're too graphic, even as animations. But at least so far, they remain up on YouTube and Facebook and haven't been flagged for removal.

If the creative approach is simple, so is the underlying message, Drummond says.

"[Consent is] always made to be such a complicated conversation, with gray areas and he-said, she-said situations," he says. "We really felt that we should wipe the slate clean and think about it simply and say it simply. It's cut and dry, yes or no, but you don't always feel that when you look at some of the messages around it." 

Print work below. 

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