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Shying away from anything too risky or risque

Wednesday 16 November, 2011 by Laura

WARNING: this post contains partial nudity and sexually explicit content. That got you reading, right?

The Cut your cancer risk team has been in equal parts shocked, excited and intrigued by a couple of videos which have been released recently and we want to get your take on them.

It can be hard trying to ‘sell' cancer prevention messages. Cancer certainly isn't funny or a light hearted topic. But does that mean ads to promote awareness and early detection can't be fun? Naturally, we want to produce an ad that gets results - most of the time we want people to see the ad and take action, either by getting regular Pap tests, stopping smoking, being active, etc.

Most health agencies tend to play it safe when it comes to advertising, and with good reason. We shy away from anything too risky or risqué, for fear of offending or alienating people diagnosed with cancer, their families, or people who have lost a loved one to cancer.

Of course not all organisations play it so safe and I wanted to share a couple of examples of videos that are promoting early detection of cancers to younger age groups. The videos are exciting, sexy, fun, and still manage to get their message across. But these aren't our (Cancer Council) messages. Click here to find out more about testicular cancer in Australia and click here to find out more about breast cancer in Australia. So please keep in mind that both these videos are international and the statistics around cancer rates and key messages differ in Australia. The first is from the Canadian organisation Rethink Breast Cancer.

Take a quick peek...

This video takes a cheeky and amusing approach to breast awareness. The viewer is encouraged to download the ‘Your Man Reminder' app. From the music shifts, to the pink shower cap, to the dancing credits - it's all tongue in cheek.

I also love their play on the term TLC which in this case stands for touch, look and check. The ad successfully uses this messaging to encourage women to get to know the normal look and feel of their breasts. While breast cancer is much more common over the age of 50, it's very important women of all ages are breast aware, and I reckon this ad hits the spot.

I guess the most important thing to keep in mind is Rethink Breast Cancer targets the under-40 crowd. They use terms like 'bold, sass and style' to describe themselves, and I think this campaign is all of those things. Plus, semi-naked men... what better way to keep a woman's attention? What do you think?

This one is from the UK, comes with an 18+ rating, and is pretty ballsy - you've been warned...

It's from the Male Cancer Awareness Campaign (UK charity) and they launched this ad featuring glamour model Rhian Sugden ‘touching' herself. The idea is to encourage young men to check themselves and recognise the early signs of testicular cancer.

This ad is pretty shocking. It certainly has a twist, it works well online as a viral tool, and it targets their core audience (young men) beautifully. Again, this is a charity whose focus is young people.

This isn't an approach we'd take and isn't the kind of ad that Cancer Council would do, for a number of reasons, but firstly because testicular cancer isn't something we focus on. This is predominantly because it's a type of cancer that affects very few men and men are already incredibly good at reporting any changes, as the symptoms of testicular cancer are very obvious. It's treatable if caught early and men tend to find it in these early stages. But our messaging would be very similar to that around being breast aware, which is don't panic, and see a doctor to get it checked out ASAP.

As stressed in both these ads, early detection really is key to preventing cancer. So please see a doctor if you have any concerns. Cancer outcomes are improving (less people are dying) so make sure you know the normal look and feel of your body, as this really could save your life.

What do you think of these ads? Does flippant and fun work, or when it comes to cancer should the ads be serious? Do they bring home the early detection message successfully? It would be great to hear your views...


Love the approach in both ads. I espcially love the ad by Rethink Breast Cancer. Anything that cuts through and gets people to act positively in managing their own health is a winner in my books.

From: Cinzia, 15/04/2013

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