Real Men Deflated in London

British charity SurvivorsUK is running an outdoor advertising campaign in London drawing attention to the prevalence of sexual violence against men, associated with the Six Nations rugby tournament. The campaign, featuring a rugby ball pierced by a nail and the message “Real Men Get Raped and Talking About It Takes Real Strength”, is being featured on 140 escalator panels in central London Tube stations during the Six Nations rugby tournament. The adverts will also feature on two 48 Sheet billboards at Clapham Junction train station and on big screens at Waterloo station on 25th February and 17th March, when England are playing at home in the tournament. The campaign is launched as Metropolitan Police figures reveal that on average one man every hour in London is the victim of sexual crime.

Real Men Deflated

Official government estimates state that at most 11% of male victims report their crimes. With new Met Police figures showing that in 2009/10 a total of 945 sexual assaults against men were reported, the true figure is closer to 10,000 in the capital alone.

Michael May of Survivors UK said: “We’ve chosen to use an alpha male sport in our advertising to challenge assumptions about the type of men who get raped. It’s just as likely to be a rugby player as a librarian, a suited city banker as a hooded gang member. And we hope that by challenging our innate assumptions about the identity of male victims, we can make it even fractionally easier for a male rape victim to ask for help.”

Professor Kim Etherington, University of Bristol and Fellow of BACP said: “Males are taught from a very early age that they should be ‘strong’ and ‘in-charge’. To be successfully masculine is to be sexually potent, competitive with other males in sexual matters, and dominant with sexual interactions. Being raped challenges and negates all these preconceptions.”

Baroness Stern’s 2011 rape report acknowledged that the vast majority of male victims of sexual violence do not report their crimes because of the common view that men should be able to fight off an attacker. The review recognised that men do not come forward for fear of being ridiculed or not believed, and for fear they may be seen as gay. They do not want to be regarded as less of a man. Hence a campaign that strives to demystify what it takes to be a man.


The Real Men campaign was developed at Johnny Fearless, London, by copywriter Paul Domenet, art director Brian Connolly, photographer David Rowland. Retouching and design were produced at Smoke & Mirrors. Design media partners were JCDecaux.