CAMPAIGN: Healthcare PR - Ogilvy helps kids shun sunburn

Client: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Atlanta, Ga.)

Client: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Atlanta, Ga.)

Client: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Atlanta, Ga.)

PR Team: Ogilvy PR Worldwide (Washington, DC)

Campaign: Choose Your Cover

Time Frame: Memorial Day 2000-Memorial Day 2001

Budget: dollars 750,000

Impetuous teens don't often consider the long-term consequences of sunburn, but melanoma is the most common form of cancer among people aged 25 to 29. It will claim more than 7,000 lives this year alone.

Ogilvy has been helping the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) alert teens and young adults to the importance of sun protection.

However, midway through the five-year campaign the agency discovered that what had worked in reaching teens was no longer effective.


Thought was given to making tans seem uncool, but that idea was discarded because almost everyone likes to be tan. 'We knew it was a stretch so we dropped it,' says Jennifer Wayman, Ogilvy vice president.

The idea of tackling problems associated with sunburn seemed more realistic.

'Many teens don't think there are consequences from sunburn, but they do not like the immediate pain and embarrassment,' explains Wayman.

Sunscreen and umbrellas are a tough sell to macho-minded guys, so the team decided to reach the boys via the girls and developed PSAs showing them taking precautions together.

The campaign first relied on TV, radio and print PSAs to carry the message.

But when looking at survey data of media habits, Ogilvy discovered that kids are reading newspapers and magazines less.


With a tight budget this year, CDC conducted modest media outreach, with satellite distribution of newswire press releases, pitches to key reporters and a package containing bites and b-rolls.

Print PSAs were dropped in favor of TV and radio PSAs in order to reach teens more effectively. (Ogilvy decided to maintain a partnership with Seventeen magazine because of its teen audience.)

The TV PSAs show results of sunburn, followed by four steps to avoid the pain. The PSAs make for lively viewing and focus on skin protection in the context of having fun.

Switching tactics helped increase the money available for better production of the TV and radio PSAs. 'By doing a high-end spot, we were able to increase the likelihood that it would get played,' says Wayman.


The campaign shows PR people can rival ad agencies in developing effective TV messages. AC Nielsen rates the campaign's TV PSA number one in airplay for July, August and September.

TV placements during the summer would be worth dollars 2.9 million if the time were purchased rather than donated by stations. Radio placements represented dollars 2.8 million in pro-bono time.

Wayman wishes the budget allowed for better evaluation. Ogilvy does focus group testing, but test-marketing campaigns in communities wasn't possible.

Due to cost, the newswire distribution results were not monitored.

The bites and b-roll packages generated more than six million audience impressions from broadcasts including CNN, CBS Morning News, MSNBC and Fox News. During the Sydney Olympics, CBS News aired a skin cancer story featuring the US synchronized swimming team.


The budget will be reduced to dollars 500,000 next year.

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