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How Australian IVF brand Genea is bringing infertility out of the closet


By Amit Bapna | Editor-at-large

April 23, 2021 | 7 min read

As couples increasingly resort to assisted conception methods, Australian brand Genea Fertility is trying to re-craft the narrative and normalise this conversation. The Drum speaks to the people behind the campaign


How Australian IVF brand Genea is bringing infertility out of the closet

The world over, even as couples are increasingly facing the challenges of conception and looking at assisted conception treatment as a solution, a key challenge that the category is facing in this journey is the stigma around IVF.

Genea Fertility, one of Australia’s leading providers of assisted conception treatment is trying to break down this barrier and has recently launched a new integrated brand campaign to change the narrative. The company has changed its brand line to ‘Genea. Where babies come from’ and has launched a new campaign in collaboration with CHE Proximity to talk about the joyful, sexy celebration of IVF and move the perception that babies only come from natural conception.

Genea - Where Babies Come From from Genea Fertility on Vimeo.

The film, produced in a provocative manner, has a soundtrack by the iconic Salt N Peppa ‘Let’s talk about Sex’.

Besides, there is a children’s book also launched that seeks to explain where IVF kids come from, all in a very quirky and fun way. Here is what the client and the agency have to say about this unusual work for an unusual category

On the thought process behind this campaign

Over the past few years, the Australian fertility space has undergone a lot of change with new clinics emerging, category marketing spends increasing and low-cost providers entering the market with similar positioning. In such a cluttered scenario, premium providers such as Genea had to elevate themselves by breaking the mouldmold in an undifferentiated market, says Genea’s head of brand and marketing,

Nicole Papoutsis. She shares how research commissioned by Genea in late 2019 helped them understand the choice drivers for potential patients. The findings also helped in finding the missing links of the category, which include, “poor differentiation in the market, communication that was too cold and clinical and tone that didn’t connect with those struggling to have a baby.”

The brand thus found an opportunity to differentiate, with a more human tone, and help break down the taboos around infertility and IVF by rewriting the story of where babies come from.

A bold and risqué campaign? Yes, part of the marketing plan

It’s bold, agrees Papoutsis, but then “we needed to take a leap of faith, step outside our comfort zone to be able to create change and get that cut-through.” Ultimately, we had to drive a cultural change in the way people talk (or don’t talk) about infertility and IVF and the need to differentiate in a crowded market, she adds. In her view, stepping outside the category norm to this degree was nerve-racking but it had to be done.

The category problem and the solution

It’s 2021 but IVF and infertility are still surprisingly very taboo, in most parts of the world. People still don’t feel they can talk openly about their struggles in this journey.

Most often it is done behind secret social media accounts that patients set up to connect with strangers or discussed behind closed doors without the support of family and friends, views Papoutsis. The sense of people being alone during such a challenging time can be really painful and we wanted to help change the narrative and drive talkability for this community, she adds. And that didn’t just mean hetero couples, it also meant single women, same-sex couples and all types of family units: “inclusiveness was a key part of the story.”

Infertility, according to Papoutsis, is a highly emotive topic and when blended with the traditional healthcare comms environment, it becomes easy to see why it has been such a conservative category. The solution thus was to balance between creating engaging content but not making light of such a challenging issue, she adds.

Campaign and the ROI expected

Rewriting the story of where babies come from doesn’t just happen overnight, but it needs to happen for the 1 in 20 kids who are born via IVF, says Papoutsis. The company has already seen brand awareness increase significantly in the IVF considerer market and its future patient market, in a short amount of time, as well as seen a big lift in enquiry rates and conversion. For now, we are working hard in bringing about the cultural impact that we can potentially have for this community, adds Papoutsis.

CHE Proximity’s creative director Richard Shaw shares the journey of creating a bold campaign in a challenging fertility advertising market

On the client brief for the complex category

Genea is a world-leading IVF clinic, but their market share, as well as the perception of the brand, was slipping. The task was to re-establish the brand as an industry leader and be top-of-mind in the IVF community. The client acknowledged the state of fertility advertising in Australia, with endless stock shots of happy families with a very clinical white vibe and an inherent sameness to the look and sound. It was good to hear that the client was ‘sick of the sea of sameness’: we knew we were off to a great start.

On changing the brand at all touchpoints

The launch work comprising of a book and film were created to challenge the stigmas around talking about IVF and reposition Genea’s new brand line ‘where babies come from’. But that is just the beginning. The look and tone of this work will flow through everything the brand does: from how we talk on the phone to how we engage doctors and the patient collateral. The plan is to keep building the Genea brand at every touchpoint by working on this platform.

On the tough part of cracking this unusual brief

It is easy to say we want to try and defy the stigma around IVF, but the tough part was what could we do to make people understand that it’s far more common, than, is acknowledged here in Australia? That is where the idea of re-writing the story of where babies come from suddenly popped up. After that, a film and book were relatively obvious steps, but the tone of each piece had to be kept fresh, especially for this category.

When we first started working with Genea, the client and agency relationship was new, so there were a few blushing faces when discussing the finer details of some of the images. Once the awkwardness had passed, every meeting was quite funny. We had plenty of fun along the way.

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