Healthcare Engagement Strategy Awards 2010

Award: Best Health Issue Awareness Campaign
Winner: Skcin’s Computer Tan Campaign

In contrast to many of the rich engagement strategies we’ve highlighted in the Healthcare Engagement Strategy Awards, computertan.com is a very simple, directly engaging campaign. The concept is straightforward: raise awareness of the dangers of skin cancer through overexposure to UV rays; reach those most at risk of UV overexposure by luring them to take a free trial of ‘a revolutionary new online tanning service’. Then instead, give them hard truths about skin cancer.

It’s all delivered in a highly creative, fun and engaging way. The website at computertan.com reassures visitors that this is a safe alternative to sunbeds, and offers the free trial. Shortly into the trial session, the screen changes to reveal the message “DON’T BE FOOLED. UV EXPOSURE CAN KILL”, followed by five gruesome images of skin cancer and a statement that five people per day die of skin cancer in the UK. Users of the website are then invited to send the spoof to their friends. Clearly, many people accepted the invitation – to date the site has been visited over 1.5 million times.

I asked Kathryn Clifford from Skcin, the charity behind the campaign to raise awareness of skin cancer, who the campaign aimed to engage. She explained why the channel and creative format was perfect for their target audience:

“[We were engaging] people who love to be tanned; in particular UV tanning, and in particular sunbed users, and those with little knowledge of the dangers of being overexposed to UV, and those who are prepared to go to any lengths to get a tan. You can get through to a lot of these people through blogs and websites because people are really heavily connected online with this. The campaign was particularly aimed at a younger audience, and teenagers, who use and interact with the web. They seem to be less knowledgeable or concerned about cancer in general, and are really unaware of the dangers of UV tanning.”

Clifford says that the campaign’s extensive reach was helped by the way that traditional media responded to the campaign:

“The press absolutely loved it, jumped on it straight away. It went hand in hand. It was televised so much; it was in [UK newspaper] The Sun, with 8 million readership. In fact, because of that we’ve formed a fantastic relationship with The Sun now, who in their words are on a ‘crusade’ with Skcin to raise awareness of skin cancer. So that’s a direct result – without this campaign we would not have had that. Because of the spoof and the very nature of it, it really did get talked about and raised more awareness, which is still going on now.”

Media response extended well beyond the UK too. Clifford says that the worldwide nature of the Internet allowed the campaign to reach a further 180 countries, and that there has been a “huge response” from traditional media in those countries too.

Key lessons leaned by Skcin through te campaign were related to the success of their approach. Clifford feels that the creative ‘spoof’ approach was what gained the huge reach, and says they were very luck to have had creative agency McCann Erickson working with them, who came up with the spoof idea.

She also says that the Internet is a great way to achieve this kind of exposure. “The web is a great way of doing it. It’s far more cost-effective, and it’s quantifiable; you know how many people have got your message. And it’s the way to go when you’re trying to reach a younger audience.

Skcin was formed to significantly raise awareness, and that’s what this campaign did“, concludes Clifford. We agree. And for that, we award the Computer Tan Campaign, Healthcare Engagement Strategy Award 2010 for Best Health Issue Awareness Campaign.


View all Healthcare Engagement Strategy Awards 2010 winners.

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