A campaign to make cyber-flashing illegal features Genie Espinosa’s cartoonishly sinister characters

Because Brook represents young people navigating their sexual journeys, as the creatives claim, they wanted a design that would speak to young people directly. Not a poster but a branded print that they would want to photograph and in turn “opening our QR code to tweet their MP.” Thus, the design becomes multifaceted in both aesthetics and practicality. “Brook have an incredibly bright colour palette, this was a huge inspiration for the design,” continue O’Connor and Bard. “This would make the posters a stop-on-the-street moment.”
How many young people have been victims of unsolicited nudes? In our digital age, receiving these types of images is all too common. It’s also a form of sexual harassment which can cause emotional distress, but it continues to happen unregulated. According to a 2018 YouGov poll, four in ten young women said they had been sent a photograph of a penis without having asked for one, with 46 per cent of these women saying they were under 18 when it first happened. 26% of 18-24 year old men have reported receiving unsolicited nudes.
A new campaign led by sexual health and wellbeing charity for young people, Brook, hopes to now make “cyberflashing” illegal. Motivated by the government’s lack of response to the issue – despite, in 2018, the Women and Equalities Committee recommending the introduction of a law criminalising cyberflashing as a sexual offence – the charity has enlisted advertising agency, Grey London. The timing is also particularly pertinent as, in July 2021, a Law Commission review recommended that cyberflashing be made a criminal offence and said that current figures on it were just “the tip of the iceberg”.
Illustrator and comic book author Genie Espinosa – who’s worked with Apple, Nike, Spotify and Vice, to name a few – often uses the innocence of childhood illustrative aesthetics to convey deeper and perhaps darker messages. Creatives Orla O’Connor and Daisy Bard at Grey London felt that the bold colours and cartoonish style from Espinosa were a way to “divorce the design from the reality of how traumatic cyber flashing can be, and therefore avoid triggering people.” Simultaneously, they were keen to accent characters with slightly sinister facial expressions to represent the aggression of the act. “Genie was the perfect artist to help us get across this balance.”