While the advertising canon is vast and deep, there’s one glaring omission. There is no campaign that ably answers the question, "Is it ever okay for a dancing penis to insert its head into a dancing vagina?"
Now there is. "Consent Is Simple" is a campaign for Project Consent, a nonprofit organization that aims to raise awareness around the harms of rape culture, that uses talking genitalia to illustrate that there is really no confusion around the concept of sexual consent. So if the question of whether or not someone’s interested in sexual advances might be muddy on the thumping haze of a dance floor, the situation is made plainly clear when a cheery little penis tries to assert its will on an equally cheery little vagina.
Created by Juniper Park\TBWA in Toronto, the campaign aims to get people talking about consent in advance of spring break season—a sadly obvious high-risk time for sexual assault. Juniper Park’s chief creative officer Terry Drummond says the agency was simply briefed to create a campaign around consent. "[It was] very wide open," he says. "As we did our research we discovered that the issue is always treated as a complicated one. But it is actually very simple. If it’s not yes, it’s no." This insight led to the campaign’s tagline, which serves to make exceedingly clear the rules of sexual engagement.
So how exactly did this message manifest itself as jolly little balls of, um, body parts? Drummond says the genital characters came from seeing that the conversation around consent is often clouded by analogies. The goal was to keep it as simple as possible.
"We chose to be more direct," he says. "Plus, we feel it’s very watchable, and our point of view on consent won’t be part of the greater conversation if nobody watches the videos. Fortunately, we have a client that permitted us to do this idea."
The campaign features three spots, with others starring dynamic duos such as a breast and a hand and a penis and a bottom, that will be released through YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and the Project Consent site. The organization will also add its voice to the monthly Twitter chat of the high-profile "It’s On Us" campaign against sexual assault, created by the White House in partnership with the Center for American Progress and student body leadership from nearly 200 colleges and universities across the U.S.
"The goal of the campaign is to get people to see consent differently," says Drummond. "It isn’t a messy and complicated issue. Again, it’s simple. If it’s not yes, it’s no."