Client: Cancer Research UK
PR team: Unity
Timescale: April-November 2009
Budget: Less than £80,000
Research from Cancer Research UK found young people were continuing to put their health at risk despite knowing there is a link between excessive tanning and skin cancer.
- To engage a 16- to 18-year-old audience with Cancer Research UK's SunSmart messaging
- To challenge attitudes to tanning
- To begin to change behaviour around tanning and sunbathing.
Strategy and plan
Unity carried out a research project headed by its in-house social psychologist looking at how the 16-18 age group responds to health messaging. The research showed young people in the 16-18 age group do not listen to parents, rebel against authority and switch off when told what to do. They crave individuality but also want to belong.
Using the research as a guide, the PR team created a campaign that centred on the idea of the 'skindividual' - helping people recognise that their skin is, like them, unique, beautiful and special and therefore deserves to be protected.
To address the need to belong, the PR team used music to draw the audience in and get them communicating the message to other music lovers.
A music event was set up incorporating a competition. The young people who grew the largest guest lists through a specially created social networking site, by exposing their friends to the SunSmart messages and a questionnaire, would win a place to attend the gig with their friends.
Acts Ladyhawke, New Young Pony Club and Bombay Bicycle Club were announced as the line-up, and a high-profile panel of young people including actors from Skins and Inbetweeners was set up to back the campaign and spread the message.
Celebrities such as former X Factor contestant Diana Vickers, Radio One's Scott Mills and Chloe Madeley were encouraged to create their own guestlists.
The final stage of the competition saw the five finalists use a short film to express what made them 'skindividuals' and why they deserved to win. The judging criteria ensured the films conveyed the campaign's key messages. These were put online and featured on the finalists' own social media sites.
Measurement and evaluation
The campaign secured 70 pieces of coverage including a news package on launch day for Radio One's Newsbeat and an interview with Ladyhawke on BBC Switch.
In total the films created by the entrants received more than 100,000 views on YouTube.
Research among the target audience after the event showed the campaign had educated the audience that sunbathing can lead to ageing, sunburn, skin damage and cancer, and encouraged the audience to protect their skin - especially females. The research also showed fewer young people aspired to have a tan.
The final gig was attended by 'skindividual' winner Kate McGill and around 500 of her friends, randomly selected from her social media networks.
SECOND OPINION - JAMES RAMSAY, ACCOUNT DIRECTOR, BRIGHT YOUNG THINGS COMMUNICATIONS
It would be easy to say the skindividual campaign succeeded simply because it brought together the tried and tested formula of celebrity, music and social media. But I don't think that paints the whole picture. The challenge here was to integrate the component parts and Unity thought long and hard about this.
I really like the way the campaign inspired young people to promote the gig themselves by tapping into and growing their own social networks. Unity was clever here, using social media as a platform to bring out young people's natural competitiveness and, in so doing, motivating them to spread the campaign's messages. The use of celebrity was also good and struck the 'cool but credible' balance well.
It is refreshing to see that skindividual was grounded in what appears to be well conceived scientific research and the findings are interesting, particularly around how increased awareness on health issues doesn't necessarily result in behaviour change.
However, I would question how the research findings evolved into the strategy and creative approach: personally, I'm not convinced about the link between identifying young people's need to 'belong' and the big idea to put on a gig.
That said, the big idea obviously worked on many levels and the sheer number of views on YouTube alone - assuming they were all exposed to the campaign's messages at some point - is truly impressive.