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Here’s how Relate got us talking about sex in later life

Ogilvy PR won the ‘Corporate social responsibility’ at The Drum Awards for PR 2021 with its ‘Joy of sex in later life’ campaign for Relate. Here, the team behind the winning entry reveal the secrets of this successful project...

The challenge

Your grandparents might be doing it right now. Your Auntie and Uncle. Your neighbours too. Not only are they being intimate and having sex, they are loving it.

But 80% of us in the UK don’t want to talk about sex and intimacy in later life. We prefer to think that older people simply aren’t ‘doing it’. But what if that was you? How would you feel?

The brief was simple. How can we get the media and the nation talking about sex and intimacy in later life?

The strategy

We looked at the conversation around later life sex, which was non-existent. And then the imagery, which apart from a few inappropriate niche sites (!), was nothing you’d relate to or be proud to share.

So addressed it head on and created a set of intimate, beautiful, uplifting and provocative images that forced people to address their own bias and look at later life sex with fresh eyes.

Working with renowned icon, Rankin, we captured five couples and one woman in their most intimate settings as a set of powerful portraits that made the previously unseen unmissable.

To engage media in the subject, we substantiated the issue and demonstrated the scale of the taboo by commissioning proprietary research to gain nationwide data on insights and views about this unspoken subject.

We created a huge bank of impactful assets for media, from the beautifully shot images to video vignettes of the talent to show what sex and intimacy can mean in later life, as well case studies of the talent.

We shone a spotlight on the campaign storytellers (Rankin, sex therapist, talent), through a combination of visuals, videos and written word allowing their views on the subject to be heard loud and clear.

The campaign

We wanted the world to wake up on launch day and think about later life sex.

As a pro-bono project, the OOH was not confirmed until two weeks prior to launch. We moved fast to sync all earned comms to make sure everything hit at once.

We secured a print exclusive with a national newspaper to break the news the day before launch, before securing coverage with news-desks, columnists, health editors, arts magazines and TV and radio planners nationwide.

Once the conversation had been sparked, we exploded it across the media, placing further interviews with our campaign storytellers; resulting in phone-in discussions on BBC Radio 4, in-depth segments on Steph’s Packed Lunch, commentary pieces in LadBible, and opinion pieces from the likes of Janet Street Porter for Daily Mail.

We secured Getty to capture the OOH in-situ who issued the images globally across their wire. We then re-issued the story with new images to sustain momentum.

The story rolled, nationally and internationally, from Canada to New Zealand, Brazil to the Philippines.

Ultimately, we got the world discussing and debating later life sex.

The results

Key highlights included:

  • Over 1.5 billion reach (Source: Meltwater report).
  • Over 200 pieces of press coverage:- National newspapers (Observer, Guardian, The Times, The Daily Telegraph, I, The Daily Mirror) plus radio and TV (Times Radio, BBC Radio 4 You & Yours, Steph’s Packed Lunch), online lifestyle titles (LadBible) and international media (Brazil’s magazine TV show Fantastico,Vogue Brazil, Italian daily newspaper Corriere della Sera and Onet.pl one of the largest Polish web portals).
  • Almost 1,000 social mentions (source: Brandwatch).

Within a week of launch, we saw:

  • 123% increased traffic to Relate website (65+ age group).
  • 30% increase in website users.
  • Over 50% uptake in sex therapy bookings.
  • £0 Media spend and PR budget.

This project was a winner at The Drum Awards for PR 2021. To find out which Drum Awards are currently open for entry, click here.

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