Awareness Campaigns in Aesthetics

By Ruth Donnelly / 01 May 2015

With a rising trend in industry campaigns, Aesthetics explores the need for raising patient awareness

This year has already seen the launch of several industry campaigns, all with a prominent focus on raising patient awareness of the ‘real facts’ of undergoing aesthetic treatment. 

In what can be seen as a direct response to the Keogh report, many professional bodies, organisations and companies have since decided to tackle patient awareness head on – be this in terms of safety or by dispelling common misconceptions regarding aesthetic treatments.

In November 2014, Allergan launched a consumer campaign, #THISISME, to empower women to age the way they desired. Its main focus was to help women understand more about facial filler treatments, and the campaign used images of six ‘natural-looking’ women, previously treated with Juvéderm, to encourage the idea of ageing gracefully with the aid of aesthetic treatment – but an informed approach was the underpinning message.

Allergan’s vice president and managing director, Caroline Van Hove, said, “Our bold campaign, #THISISME, features women of all ages and backgrounds encouraging other women to continue to embrace the positives about getting older, but empowering them to make their own treatment choices and not be ashamed, so they can age as they want to.” 

The research behind the campaign showed that of 2,000 women, only 20% say they want to look five years younger – 41% would rather look fresher and more radiant, suggesting a trend towards desiring a more natural look.

Galderma similarly hoped to highlight natural-looking results following their aesthetic treatments by launching a global campaign in March 2015, at the Aesthetic Medicine World Congress in Monaco, fronted by American actress and model Sharon Stone. “Almost 70% of the practitioners we work with reported that their patients most fear looking unnatural,” said Anne-Sophie Copin, global head of Skin Rejuvenation Aesthetics & Corrective for Galderma. 

With this campaign, the dermatology company hope to make aesthetics more publically accepted, testing their products to challenge out-dated perceptions about treatment and show that a natural look can be achieved as a result. Galderma will later unveil the results at a live event in May. 

However, dispelling myths of unnatural looking treatments is just one aspect of the campaigns currently dominating the aesthetic industry. Organisation Save Face and professional body the British Association of Plastic Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons (BAPRAS) have each introduced their own campaigns to educate and increase safety awareness among current and potential patients. 

Save Face launched their consumer awareness campaign on the London Underground in December 2014, targeting a larger audience as people travelled to the capital from around the UK for the festive season. It utilised the image of a woman’s face with one blood-filled tear to capture attention and encourage commuters to consider cosmetic safety, guiding them to the Save Face website to learn more.

“We wanted to get people’s attention, which we have been very successful in doing,” said Brett Collins, co-director of Save Face. “The campaign has driven, with no doubt, huge traffic to the website, and I think what we are still experiencing is the knock-on effect of social media,” he continued. “We were trying lots of different things to really engage with people and that’s an ongoing mechanism.”

As a result, Save Face has experienced a huge rise in visitors to its website, which Collins suggests shows a growing market of better educated patients, highlighting the success of the Underground campaign. 

“The ultimate driver of any change, we’re going to have to accept, will be the consumer. We’ve got to educate the consumer, we’ve got to be consistent and we’ve got to sound unified with our messages” Emma Davies

With a new advertising campaign to be featured in Elle magazine, the organisation hopes to continue educating consumers on a broad scale. Alongside the Galderma campaign, March also saw the introduction of the ‘Think Over Before You Make Over’ campaign from BAPRAS. This safety campaign aims to ensure that patients really consider their options before opting for cosmetic surgery.

“We constantly see patients who go to have something done which is not really appropriate for them,” said BAPRAS president Mr Nigel Mercer. “Some of the market research we did before this said that 82% of people are unhappy with the result of the surgery that they have had done.”

On the basis of this research, BAPRAS decided to outline the parameters that patients should consider. “Patients need to know what they want done, they need to do their research carefully so they know that they are seeing the right person – because there is an awful lot of bad practice going on out there – and they need to ask the right questions,” continued Mr Mercer.

In March, the Supreme Court ruled that patients must be aware of all complications associated with their treatment in order to make an informed decision. 

This was as a result of a case in which a pregnant diabetic woman had not been informed of all risks associated with her pregnancy, therefore experienced complications where other options had been available. Mr Mercer believes this will be a gamechanger for ensuring patients are now fully informed and aware of all options from their first consultation.

He said, “We now have very much better educated patients, they all have access to the internet, and therefore the surgeon or practitioner must tell the patient what their options are, what their complications are and how it will affect them.” He continued, “The ruling very clearly applies to consent for any intervention from now on.”

Reflecting on the future of campaigns within the industry, Emma Davies, clinical director of Save Face, said, “The ultimate driver of any change, we’re going to have to accept, will be the consumer. We’ve got to educate the consumer, we’ve got to be consistent and we’ve got to sound unified with our messages.” 

Mr Mercer added, “I think the one thing that we have to live and die by is that everyone in this market has to put the patient first, not their profit first. It has to be patient before profit.”

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