BBH Just Made One of the Most Poetic Ads About Men and Masculinity

Shakespeare assists with prostate cancer PSA

"What a piece of work is a man. How noble in reason. How infinite in faculty. … In action, how like an angel. In apprehension, how like a god." 

Lines from one of Hamlet's soliloquies, in which the Prince of Denmark mulls the grandeur and promise of men, propel this potent PSA from Prostate Cancer U.K. and BBH London. 

Over joyous images of guys, including some cancer survivors, shown in various stages of their lives, actress Zoe Wanamaker delivers the Bard's heightened language with confident resolve. The fact that she's a woman (who lost her father to the disease) imbues the campaign's "Men, we are with you" vow with special power, and reminds us that, ultimately, we're all in this together.

The spot also serves as a meditation on masculinity itself—showing, rather than telling, the strength that comes with vulnerability and openness. (Hey, Gillette, take some notes here, will ya?) 

Prostate Cancer UK: Men, we are with you

Wanamaker's narration not only binds men and women in the cancer fight at hand. In a broader sense, it allies the sexes in a battle to dispel everyone's suffering in an all-too-frequently cruel world, and paints an idealized state worth striving for. 

Of course, Hamlet was a melancholy sort, and the spot retains his weary appraisal of man as "this quintessence of dust." Here, in context, this serves as a reference to our transient passage through life, and a challenge to make the most of what we've got. 

"'Man' is quite a big subject to write about," BBH concedes, "so we got some help. This passage from Shakespeare's Hamlet was a gift." 

"The words are poetic. Viewers can interpret them in different ways and attribute them to the individual men in their lives. They are deeply profound—they take a film made up of everyday images to a higher level. And of course, they are timeless: They have been moving audiences for centuries.

"The tone of this film was important to us. One man dies from prostate cancer in the U.K. every 45 minutes. The disease is quickly becoming one of the biggest killers there is. But rather than wallow in these sober facts, we wanted to challenge category convention and deliver a positive message—that men are worth saving." 

Though men are understandably the focus, the work speaks to all humanity. It casts our better selves as guardians and protectors, forever striving to embrace, and enhance, "the beauty of the world."


Prostate Cancer UK
Associate Director of Communications: Olivia Burns 
Head of Marketing Communications: Nicholas Wright 
Strategic Planning Manager: Sarah Lines
BBH Creative Team: Oliver Short
BBH Creative Director: Nick Gill
BBH Account Director: Selina Strasburger/Aymara Blanco
BBH Producer: Jemima Bowers
BBH Assistant Producer: Sam Ramsey 
Production Company: Pulse Films
Director: Nicolas Jack Davies
Executive Producer: Lucy Kelly
Producer: Chris Harrison
Post Production: The Mill
Editor/Editing House: Billy Mead @ Ten Three Sound: String and Tins
Lead Music Supervisor: Julz Baldwin
The Garage brand strategist: Nick Kendall Media: The7Stars

David Gianatasio
David Gianatasio is managing editor at Clio Awards.

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