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Responses by Tamryn Kerr, creative director, VMLY&R

Background: Erection problems are surrounded by misconceptions and stigmas. We wanted to challenge and educate both men and couples about the real life causes of the problem, shifting the blame from men’s perceived lack of “masculinity” and placing it onto modern life itself. We set out to start a broader cultural conversation, but our primary target audience is men over 35.

Reasoning: In a category that is filled with success stories, we decided to write a love story, an honest depiction of a couple who has let their life get a bit out of control. We wanted the characters’ interactions and movements to be as natural as possible in the hopes that we all see ourselves in them and their relationship. We opted for a two-minute longer form film to give us space to not only tell the story about life causes but also to build an emotional story arch that would strike a chord.

Challenges: The research behind the project. Josh Taylor-Dadds, our amazing strategy director, had the unenviable task of getting men to open up about erection problems. The stigma is so great that the minute you mention erection problems to a research group, you can literally feel the air being sucked out of the room. None of them wanted to talk about it, although we knew that many of the men at the group would have been experienced those problems. That’s when we knew that we had to approach this brief from a completely different angle.

Favorite details: The approach that we took in showing the problem and how it made men feel. It’s far easier to show happy older men celebrating the “victory” of being able to have sex, but that’s simply not true to life. The stigma around erection problems can cast a veil of shame that men find incredibly difficult to overcome. By approaching the subject honestly, we hope to shift the blame from men to those everyday life causes, and to help them have more open conversations with their partners.

Specific demands: Pharma is a highly regulated market, which is why advertising in this sector often takes a conservative approach. Navigating the rules and guidelines from a creative point of view was one of the trickiest parts of the process. And with no precedent like this, we headed into uncharted territory with the Upjohn legal team and the regulating body, who also had to approve the work. We had so many back and forth exchanges with them that they now know us all by name.

Anything new: We learned how to run a project entirely from a remote setup before COVID arrived and gave us no choice. We already had teams working in London and Brazil, so we had to find a good way of working together in different time zones. When COVID made this the reality for everyone, we were luckily already in full production with Blinkink and Zombie Studio. I was mostly worried about not being in the studio for the sound design, but when Factory’s creative director Anthony Moore agreed to jump on board, I knew that we were in safe hands.

vmlyr.com/en-gb/united-kingdom

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