Charity group Cancer Research UK has come under fire from angry consumers after its latest awareness campaign: ‘Keep Calm and Regularly Check Your Prostate’, was blasted as taking the popular ‘Keep Calm and…’ theme beyond its logical limits.
Activist and Consumer Action Group spokesman Howard Slead has accused Cancer Research UK of ‘really taking the Mickey.’ ‘Over the last few years posters, T-shirts and albums have encouraged the British consumer to keep calm and chill out, have a cuppa, eat a muffin and so on ad-nauseum,’ he said. ‘Come on guys; I support the fight against prostate cancer as much as the next man, but you could at least do something original rather than cling to the same tired old meme as everyone else.’
The ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ phenomenon first occurred in 2000 after the discovery of an original 1939 poster, designed to calm the population in the event of a Nazi occupation. Since then the slogan has been adapted for thousands of mainly ‘humorous’ uses. However, according to Slead, the public’s appetite for such Blitz-spirit whimsy is on the wane. ‘I can see how such a slogan can lift the spirits, be it in the face of economic disaster or the imminent threat of Jackbooted invaders,’ he admitted, ‘but it’s been twelve years now and the novelty is really wearing thin – in fact there’s a brand new zeitgeist for you right there: ‘this is really wearing a bit thin’.’
Cultural historian Professor Nigel Faraday also believes the time is right for change. ‘There are hundreds of other wartime-era posters that organisations, businesses and advertising agencies can bandwagon into annoyingly ubiquitous catchphrases. ‘Dig for Victory’ could be adopted by the Allotments Association; ‘Is Your Journey Really Necessary?’ might become a motto for Central Trains, while ‘Loose lips Sink ships’ could be adapted for Costa Cruises for example.’
With pressure groups calling for Cancer Research UK to rethink their publicity strategy and angry crowds gathering outside their London headquarters, the government has been forced to step in, with The Right Honourable Francis Maude MP calling for understanding and restraint. ‘All this fuss over a catchphrase – there really are more important things to get indignant about you know? My advice is just to keep calm and – oh, I’ve just made things worse again haven’t I?’