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This Cancer Awareness Stunt Turns A Popular Swedish Haircare Ad On Its Head

This stunt may look like that clever wind-responsive subway ad, but it’s a lot more serious.

Back in February, Swedish agency Akestam Holst equipped a digital subway billboard in Stockholm with ultrasonic sensors. The billboard, for drug store Apotek’s haircare brand, featured a long-locked woman, and the wind tunnel created by the arriving train would cause her hair to whip around her head. It earned attention from media outlets around the world.

Now, an ad for The Swedish Childhood Cancer Foundation, has created a similar stunt–but with a twist. The new billboard looks nearly identical, though instead of a model, it features a teenage girl named Linn. And after a few seconds of the “wind effect,” Linn’s hair blows clear off her head. The tagline reads, “Every day a child is diagnosed with cancer.”

This shrewd PSA from agency Garbergs, titled “A Hair-raising Message” is notable for the way it capitalizes on the success of another (and more frivolous) advertisement. The Apotek project was so popular that the planned one-day stunt stayed live for nearly a week. But the new ad is so smart because it actually subverts our expectations twice. First we realize the “model” has cancer. Then we learn that she’s not a model at all but an actual 14-year-old girl who is fighting for her life.

About the author

Jennifer Miller is the author of The Year of the Gadfly (Harcourt, 2012) and Inheriting The Holy Land (Ballantine, 2005). She's a regular contributor to Co.Create.



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