To celebrate World Menopause Day this year (October 18th), Dark Horses rallied a group of comedians, personalities, and one globally super famous rocker, in support of non-profit organisation Menopause Mandate.
The lack of education and support for menopausal women is beyond a joke so, Jo Brand, Davina McCall, Lisa Snowdon, Gina Bellman, Lavina Mehta, Jackie Adedeji, Mariella Frostrup, TikTok sensation Hayley Morris and even Rod Stewart, all lend their comic genius by telling menopause ‘jokes.’ The joke being that they aren’t actually jokes.
Taking inspiration from classic gags such as “knock knock” but using punchlines that are deliberately unfunny, the “jokes” show that the lack of awareness, understanding and treatment for menopause is laughable, championing the statement end line: ‘It’s beyond a joke’.
The campaign, which was created by Dark Horses for Menopause Mandate, features placards, bags, social content, and even fans to be used for the rally. To learn more we spoke to project art director Lara Hallam and copywriter Hannah Rendell.
What was the brief?
The core of this brief was to spread awareness about menopausal women needing fair and equal access to treatment.
Making noise about the rally on October 18th, and everything else from the book to social media assets all fed into that. But on the whole we needed to get politicians and the public to listen.
How did the initial pitch/brainstorming phase go?
We went into this only really knowing what our mums had told us about menopause. So, a huge chunk of our brainstorming was research.
The more we delved into learning about menopause, the more shocked and frankly angry we got about how something so huge, that half of the population will go through, is treated so poorly and in many cases overlooked completely.
What was the process behind ideating the concept?
Once we’d learnt all the facts and realised just how bad the situation is, we wanted to find a way to shock people into the truth.
‘It’s beyond a joke’ came about from us thinking that this is one of those situations where if you don’t laugh, you’ll cry.
The access to treatment, the non-existent education, and the zero support was so laughably horrendous, we landed on the idea of creating a campaign that shouts about how much of a joke it really is, and how vital it is that we see things change.
As part of this, we wrote a whole suite of “jokes” that took inspiration from classic gags like “doctor doctor” but used punchlines that are purposefully not funny, showing that the lack of awareness, understanding and treatment for menopause is frankly laughable.
What was the production process like?
From the very early design stage, we knew we wanted to develop a look that was full of attitude - impossible to ignore.
We went through a couple of different visual routes over the months, each bringing the various jokes that we’d written to life. In the end, we went for simple but bold and visually striking.
Our amazing designer Yuriko Ui came in and brought it all to life, even hand drawing a brand new Menopause Mandate font for the campaign.
What was the biggest challenge during production? How did you overcome it?
Writing the jokes by far. We and others at the agency ended up writing hundreds of jokes, trying to get to a shortlist of 30 that had the impact we needed - anyone we could recruit to get their comedian hats on, we did.
In the end it was a ton of fact finding, finessing, and a group effort that got us there.
Our CEO, Menopause Mandate director and advocate extraordinaire Melissa Robertson’s persuasion skills, and incredible persistence, managed to land us all the amazing celebrities that took part in our film.
What kit/tools/software were used to create the project?
The design work was mainly brought to life in Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop, and our films were created in Adobe After Effects.
What is one funny or notable thing that happened during production?
We ended up with about 7 different google docs, each at least 20 pages long, full of jokes. So if anyone ever needs material for a stand up set on menopause, we’re the ones to ask.
The addition of the handheld fans that read ‘It’s beyond a joke’ were originally thought of because the rally was meant to happen in summer. But when it moved to October, adding the line of ‘It’s not even hot out’ to them worked even better, to shine a light on a symptom at the same time. They ended up being one of our favourite details of the campaign.
What’s the main message of this project and why does it matter?
The main message is that everyone needs to take notice of menopause, and that change needs to start happening now. From better access to treatment, to education and proper support for everyone going through it.
How long did it take from inception to delivery?
We were initially briefed in May this year, but in the past few months everything hit full speed as the rally got closer.
What do you hope it achieves for the brand?
Noise. We need more awareness for Menopause Mandate and the changes they’re helping to make, not just from those in power but from everyone.
Credit list for the work?
Creative agency: Dark Horses
CEO: Melissa Robertson
Executive Creative Director: Steve Howell
Creative Directors: Josh Pearce & Sean Johnson
Creatives: Lara Hallam & Hannah Rendell
Planner: Mark Lloyd
Editor: Steve Fowler
Designer: Yuriko Ui & Lucie Simpson
Account Director: Tia Sackett