Monday, September 27, 2010

The Birds and the Bees: An Infertility Story

If good comedy is rooted in pain, well I guess EMD Serono (division of Merck), makers of Gonal-F and Ovidrel, have nailed it. As part of a guerilla marketing campaign, EMD Serono has launched these five web-videos available on the dedicated website, The site then links to a more educational site, Fertility Lifelines.

We follow along the story of Neil and Karen, a bee and a bird, who are desperately trying to conceive. With a dash of poignant humor, the web-videos touch upon the many emotional issues that infertility stirs in us. From attending baby showers to sex-on-demand to the toll that it takes on a marriage.

Browsing through the various sites to glean some of the reactions, I was happily surprised to find that most people appreciated the positive step that this campaign was taking -- making the IF struggle public, opening the door for dialogue and highlighting the everyday anguish. But, some found the spots offensive and belittling the terrible heartache that is infertility. Some suggested that advertisers would never make fun of ED, for instance.

If I were to put my former-TTC cap on, I am quickly reminded of my hyper-sensitivity and my inability to deal with anything that reminded me of our "failures." Yes, pharmaceutical ads don't usually parody illnesses, so why should infertility turn into a joke? But, if I were to put my former-ad-girl and now hindsight-20/20-girl hats on (Ok, I realize that's two hats, but work with me here), I would say the web-videos are rooted in true insight, and the use of humor makes the stories more accessible -- they stay with you; the little details, the nervous laughs. Furthermore, this campaign has tremendous legs (ad speak for opportunities to do more in other media). Perhaps we will continue to follow Neil and Karen on their journey as they do see an fertility specialist, hence further expanding on the countless ways in which infertility affects a couple's lives. And I actually applaud EMD Serono for allowing themselves to be taken outside the box of traditional pharma advertising (good creatives and account people at that ad agency!).

I want to hear from you. What did you think about the campaign?

P.S. Thank you to my fellow blogger, This is More Personal, for sharing these videos.


gingerandlime said...

I wanted to like these videos. I really did. I liked the costumes, I was hoping for something original and clever, but unfortunately all I could see was the reinforcement of the worst gender stereotypes. He's clueless and in deep denial (he underestimates their length of time TTC by a year!); she's angry, bitter, humorless, and obsessed. I just didn't find it funny at all.

The Infertility Doula said...

Thank you commenting, Gingerandlime. Unfortunately, stereotypes are tool that the majority of advertisers use. The lowest common-denominator type thing.

For what it's worth, during our IF journey, my DH was not clueless or in deep denial; he was supportive. But in the initial stages of us trying (before seeing an RE), I don't think he was as committed or aware. Since these videos refer to the initial stages, somehow, along with the hyperbole, it worked for me. I recognized the exaggerated obsession I had, while DH was still in the "let's relax" mode.

Marci said...

That link didn't work for me.

The Infertility Doula said...

Marci, I just fixed it.

Suzy said...

I actually really liked them. We need more awareness, and while these only skim the surface, they really might get the message out there.
FWIW I believe all stereotypes are rooted in truth, and a lot of the infertile couples do have the problems shown in the videos. Oh and that baby shower true.
I loved them.

Rachael Lynn said...

I did like these, but I think they have potential to be so much better. I love the costumes, it looks like it's going to be good, but I think they could have been funnier, played up the stereotypes even more. What would have been even better is if the bird and the bee were not being angry with each other but rather everyone else who doesn't get infertility. Infertility does not make my husband and I uncomfortable with each other, we get's everyone else we have to deal with.

Augusta said...

Hi lovely! Thanks for stopping over at my blog the other day and leaving me a sweet comment. I really appreciated it.

I have tried to view the add by clicking on the link and by googling increase your, but nothing works. I wonder if the adds were creating too much discontent among the IF crowd and they took them down. I must say, form your description, it sounded awesome. I like a bit of humour and if they manage to expose the real issues with some humour, it must of been good. I'll try accessing the site again.

My husband has this great t-shirt (which he got before our infertility was known) which depicts a bird and a bee in conversation. The bird is speaking behind its wing to the bee and the bee has a talk bubble saying: We do WHAT??? I love that shirt.

Be well,

Princess Jo said...

It definitely sounds fun and interesting! :-)


Anonymous said...

I just discovered the Neil and Karen bird and bee videos (my fertility center had them on their Facebook page) and I LOVE these videos... I want more of them! My husband and I have been trying for 2+ years now and we're currently going through IUI (did Clomid last year). I'm the type of person who uses humor to get through things so I think that's why I love them so much (I especially like the one titled, "Jane's pregnant again"). They might use stereotypes, but that's why it's funny... and it will get you thinking "is that what it really is" and get you to your doctor (my gyn suggested a specialist and places to research). Whenever I'm feeling "blah" about the process I'm going through, I just watch these videos for a quick lift-me-up (I have them saved on my cel through YouTube) and it just makes me laugh. Of course, it all depends on the kind of day I'm having and if the hormone injections have kicked in yet and made me extra sensitive (because at that point, nothing makes me feel better except my prayers). Good luck to everyone! :)

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