AAD media campaign uses engaging videos to capture public attention

By Elizabeth S. Martin, MD 

To highlight the dangers of tanning and unprotected sun exposure, the Academy has developed new public service advertisements (PSAs) targeting teen girls, young women, and older men. Based on the success of previous PSA campaigns, we expect these engaging videos and radio spots to drive awareness to the Academy’s efforts in preventing skin cancer.

“Time” is a 60-second PSA that asks young women to stop tanning to help prevent skin cancer, especially melanoma, the second most common cancer in young adults 15 to 29 years old.

In the TV PSA campaign targeting girls and young women, titled “Time,” which was distributed to the media on May 19, it is revealed that a young woman lying out on the beach is trapped inside an hourglass, demonstrating that time may not be on your side if you continue to tan. In a companion radio PSA, four young women advise their peers that “tanning doesn’t make you beautiful; it only makes you more at risk.”

Although many young women believe that tanning makes them more attractive, these new PSAs offer a healthy dose of reality. The PSAs emphasize that whether you tan indoors or out, the effects of harmful UV rays will eventually show up on your skin and can have serious and sometimes fatal consequences.

"Lawn" is a 60-second PSA that uses humorous lawn care scenarios to encourage men to check their skin for skin cancer.

The PSA campaign targeting older men, titled “Lawn,”

 uses humor to drive the message that it’s essential that men regularly check for suspicious or changing spots. In this campaign, a video captures the efforts of a middle-aged man who detects and cultivates a spot on his perfectly groomed lawn. The video stresses that if men are willing to take heroic measures to protect their lawn, they should take the same care with their skin. This campaign will be distributed to the media on May 27.

According to an Academy survey, men are less likely than women to know how to examine their skin for signs of skin cancer. Although melanoma can strike anyone, men older than 50 are at a higher risk of developing melanoma than the general population. 

The release of the new PSAs is timely; earlier in May, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released its first report about the number of preventable deaths from leading causes in the U.S. According to the CDC, cancer is the second leading cause of death in the U.S., and 21 percent of cancer deaths could be prevented. 

In addition to launching the PSAs, the Academy is teaching everyone how to SPOT Skin Cancer™ during Melanoma/Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month® in May. SPOT Skin Cancer™ is the Academy’s campaign to create a world without skin cancer through public awareness, community outreach programs and services, and advocacy that promote the prevention, detection, and care of skin cancer.

On the Academy’s website — www.SpotSkinCancer.org — visitors can learn how to perform a skin self-exam, download a body mole map for tracking changes in their skin, and find free skin cancer screenings in their area. Individuals who have been affected by skin cancer can share their personal stories and provide support and inspiration for others fighting skin cancer as well as communicate the importance of prevention and early detection.

We expect the new PSA campaigns to be as successful as the Academy’s 2012-2014 PSA campaign, which will conclude in May. The 2012-2014 campaign received more than $25 million in free advertising placements from local and national media outlets, including 37 regional and national television networks. The campaign consisted of two TV PSAs, “Born” and “Golf,” and one radio PSA, “Golf.” The campaign has proven to be one of the most successful in Academy history. Notable placements include:

  • ABC Family
  • Big Ten Network
  • BET
  • Fox Business Network
  • Fox News Channel
  • Fox Sports Ohio
  • WGN & WGN America

In addition, the 2012-2014 PSA campaign received nearly 55,000 views on YouTube. Please take some time to view the videos and share them with your patients. Simply point them to the Academy's PSA page or its PSA YouTube channel.

Dr. Martin is in private practice at Pure Dermatology and Aesthetics in Hoover, Ala., and serves as chair of the AAD Council on Communications.

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