Let’s all put our hands together for the latest campaign from Planned Parenthood of New York City (PPNYC) which has surprised exactly no one with its vulgarity and crassness. PPNYC released this ad earlier in July, inviting New Yorkers to donate to the $3.5 million dollar operation¹ and to “F*** New York and everyone in it.” The video, which has been removed from Planned Parenthood’s official YouTube channel, suggests that Planned Parenthood and the “Free to F***” mentality is already widely accepted in our culture.
The campaign begins with a video which features a variety of New Yorkers doing New-Yorker-things – riding trains, playing chess in the park, dressing in drag, rolling up to Wall Street, drinking in dive bars, and doing their laundry – accompanied by B-roll of subway cars and dirty bridges. The cast is ethnically, sexually, and gender-ambiguous and every one of them encourage you to “f***” someone, anyone, everyone in the city.
PPNYC is also launching a line of branded apparel, from T-shirts to tote bags, alongside posters and billboards reminding New Yorkers that Planned Parenthood is working very hard to protect their “freedom to f***.”
Beyond the explicit language, what’s truly uncouth about this latest campaign is the total lack of shame. This time, Planned Parenthood has publicly and completely abandoned their age-old disclaimers. You’ve certainly heard the line, “people will be sexually active anyway, we just want to make it safer for them.” This was the organization’s public relations message for years. While the industry has always relied on people having irresponsible sex, Planned Parenthood used to claim that they made the world safer for those already inclined toward risky sex.
That’s not the case anymore.
With this campaign, Planned Parenthood has completely abandoned that idea and is actively encouraging unrestrained sex with anyone who happens to cross your path. In their own words, “f*** New York and everyone in it.” They claim to be protecting your “freedom to f***” as if sexual promiscuity is a sacred, inalienable right.
But so what? Who cares if a bunch of advertisers came up with a tasteless way to appeal to New Yorkers for donations, and what does it matter if Planned Parenthood doesn’t feel the need to hide their true colors anymore? It might even seem like a good thing: skeptics will finally be able to see the abortion-giant for what they are, rather than what they purport to be.
The truth is, none of these decisions were made in a vacuum. Ad campaigns like this are well-funded and well-researched. Many hours of consumer testing went into this video and its supplemental ads before they ever saw the light of day. All of that research and testing with normal, everyday people led PPNYC’s team to realize that they could make this ad, because the message is acceptable in our modern culture.
This video, the branded tote bags, the posters hanging in subway cars… they all matter because they indicate that people have welcomed Planned Parenthood as the protector of their sacred freedom from the consequences of their actions.
¹ Total Revenue, less Total Expenses for Planned Parenthood NYC 2016 Form 990