A recently launched campaign doesn’t mince words when it comes to the human papillomavirus (HPV) and why everyone should get vaccinated against it.

The aptly named HPV Fucks Everybody campaign is the brainchild of 2023 MM+M Agency 100 honorees Publicis Health Media and Digitas Health as well as the nonprofit F Cancer. 

The goal of HPV Fucks Everybody is to highlight the risks associated with HPV, which includes developing cancer and genital warts, in an effort to encourage young people to get a vaccine to prevent infection.

On the campaign’s website, people can schedule a vaccine appointment at a number of prominent retail pharmacies, including Walgreens, CVS, Rite Aid, Walmart, Target and Kroger.

HPV Fucks Everybody is supported by a 30-second and one-minutelong commercials and is being out-of-home promoted nationwide. This includes advertisements placed across 150 campuses, 150 malls and on lifestyle websites like Thrillist and PopSugar as well as the dating app Grindr. An audio campaign is expected to follow as well.

Image used with permission.

By taking a deliberately provocative approach to public health messaging, the medical marketing agencies hope the target audience of sexually active 18- to 26-year-olds will take steps to eliminate HPV.

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention underscores how widespread, yet under-discussed the virus is in America.

Around 80% of adults have the HPV virus and nearly every American will get HPV in their lifetime. On an annual basis, 42 million Americans are currently infected with HPV types that cause disease and 13 million become infected.

Publicis Health Media, a subsidiary of Publicis Groupe, has been a vocal presence in combating HPV, especially since company CEO Arthur Sadoun was diagnosed and treated for HPV-related cancer last year.

As part of its annual, holiday-themed Useful Wishes video last year, Sadoun and Maurice Lévy, chairman of the supervisory board of Publicis, discussed how prevalent HPV is and encouraged people to get the vaccine if they hadn’t already.

The two were also joined by Academy Award-winning actor Michael Douglas, who was diagnosed with and treated for stage 4 throat cancer caused by HPV in the early 2010s.

During Super Bowl LVII in February, Publicis Groupe further raised awareness of HPV through a regional advertisement run in conjunction with Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. That commercial was awarded a Gold Lion from the Health & Wellness jury at the 2023 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity in June.

Additionally, Publicis Groupe won the Lions Health Grand Prix for Good for its Working with Cancer initiative, which was launched at the World Economic Forum to ensure that the business world stands united against the disease and other chronic conditions.

The award-winning campaign received support from more than 600 businesses, including 30 of the largest companies in the world.

While the subject of sex in public conversation can still be considered taboo, HPV Fucks Everybody is the latest example of charged advertising centered on intimacy and cancer risks.

In October, community-led charity Girl vs Cancer teamed with U.K.-based advertising giant Bartle Bogle Hegarty on a campaign highlighting the impact of cancer on people’s sex lives, especially among women.

The use of profanity is the calling card of F Cancer but has also been utilized effectively as part of other health-focused advertising recently.

Earlier this year, online addiction treatment company Ophelia rolled out its F*ck Rehab effort to let patients know that sometimes rehab doesn’t work for people dealing with opioid addiction. The campaign suggested that evidence-based medication and related approaches could improve patient outcomes.

For a December 2023 article on Publicis Health’s new CEO, click here.