Sofie Hagen vs. Cancer Research UK

Twitter is divided (though I wouldn’t put a 50/50 on it) this week over author and comedian Sofie Hagen’s shaming of the latest campaign executed by Cancer Research: that obesity is the second biggest preventable cause of cancer.

The campaign can be found nationwide, from social media to billboards, it really is hard to miss.


Whilst the campaign would of course have had the best intentions, it would seem that not everyone was too impressed by it. Sofie Hagen has publicly slammed the charity for ‘fatshaming’, describing it as nothing more than an incredibly damaging, “piece of sh*t campaign”.

But it would seem the tweet did not work so well in her favour. In fact, the original tweet full of profanity has since been deleted. Hagen has instead been met with derogatory comments, arguments and some have even gone so far as to say she has done this only to promote her upcoming book (and then went on to label her as sick for doing so).

Looking at the dispute from a PR point of view

Well, from a PR point of view it’s been interesting to see the effects of this tweet (which is the literal reverse of what would have usually happened as a result of a campaign being slammed by a public figure).

The tweet actually seems to be doing remarkably well for Cancer Research and the OB_S__Y campaign, with the majority of the divide backing the charity and slamming Sofie for her comments. The campaign has caught the attention of the press and the public eye and by doing so, has been spread around a far wider audience then it perhaps originally would have.

I’ve seen it for myself: people that usually wouldn’t share the campaign actually going ahead and sharing it on social media (with the blatant references to Sofie and her publicly acclaimed ‘ludicrous’ comments) and people spreading the message that obesity actually can cause a whole range of health implications, including cancer. The sensitive topic is always hanging in the air, yet I have never seen it be so prevalent on social media and in the news as I have recently, the power of unintentional PR, eh?

As for Sofie, I think it’s safe to say that nothing here has really gone her way.

Whilst she still has a range of supporters for sure, we can’t deny that this hasn’t been totally damaging for her image and her career. Publicly shaming a charity and fighting against facts is never going to end well, and although Miss Hagen has certainly claimed the public eye- it’s hasn’t been for any of the right reasons. I doubt this has encouraged anybody to buy her upcoming book, or brought her any supporters. So, once again, we’re seeing the powers of PR and social media, though this time not for the right reasons!

Cancer Research has stood by the campaign and exclaimed that in no way was it intended to ‘fat-shame’. They’ve even added to their plea (and I say good on them!)


My opinion?

Though I don’t usually write with a bias, in this circumstance I’m aware that I have. In my humble opinion, there’s no battle when you’re fighting facts with words alone. It’s scientifically proven that obesity can cause health implications and thus Cancer Research did right to showcase this and try and raise awareness. There’s no shame in the campaign and no prejudice, just hard facts and you cant really argue that.

The moral of the story? Think about what you say on social media as once it’s out there, there’s no retracing it. (Oh, and don’t try and argue with a cancer charity ahead of trying to promote your latest product!)

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