Client: Cancer Research Campaign
PR team: In-house
Campaign: Cover Up Campaign and Own Brand Sun Protection Lotion
Timing: February 1996 - ongoing
Cost: In-house PR time
Every year around 2,000 people die from skin cancer in the UK but the
vast majority of these deaths are preventable. Malignant melanoma, the
most serious form of skin cancer, is the fastest growing cancer in
Drawing on the Australian experiences of the Anti Cancer Council of
Victoria, the Cancer Research Campaign launched its own brand of high-
protection sun lotion together with a skin cancer awareness programme
called Cover Up. CRC also serves on the working group set up in 1994,
to respond to the Government’s Health of the Nation targets on reducing
skin cancer cases.
To increase public awareness of the harmful effects of exposure of skin
to the sun, shifting the perception of a tan from that healthy glow to
sun damaged skin, while also promoting sales of CRC’s new protection
In effect Cover Up was promoted with two media launches. The initial
press launch of the product was held at the Royal College of Physicians
on 12 February. The launch was fronted by the scientific director (and
subsequent director general) of CRC Professor Gordon McVie; the
chairman of the National Radiological Protection Board Sir Keith Peters;
Dr Jane Melia of the Institute of Cancer Research; and Gavin Walker,
Boots’ buying and marketing controller, beauty and personal care. The
group examined medical links between trends in sun bathing and increased
A video message was also provided by Paul Davey of the Anti Cancer
Council of Victoria, Australia.
Later in March, the tabloid and consumer press turned out in droves to
see Samantha Fox welcome the first delivery of CRC sun lotion into a
London Sainsbury’s. The former page three girl’s willingness to pose in
a trolley full of CRC bottles, wearing a CRC blue lycra suit, meant that
even the Daily Star gave coverage to skin cancer prevention.
As the Cover Up campaign continues, CRC plans to focus on different
protection messages together with stockists. CRC will work on individual
promotions with six stores including Sainsbury’s and Boots, including a
MORI family survey to be carried out in conjunction with a retailer.
The launch was covered by ITN mid-day news, Independent Radio News, the
Big Breakfast news, Radio 5 Live breakfast programme, Viva Radio, London
News Talk, BBC 2’s Working Lunch and around 12 local BBC stations and
extensive commercial radio. There was also coverage in the Daily
Express, the Daily Telegraph, the Independent, the Times, the Daily
Star, the Evening Standard and 30 regionals. The Samantha Fox photocall
was picked up by the Evening Standard and the Sun as well as the Daily
Star and more than 20 local papers.
Osborne says that the sun lotion is selling like hot cakes and that
stores are doubling their orders.
A topical campaign with something for everyone. The campaign gained
momentum from the Health Education Authorities ongoing Sun Know How skin
cancer campaign and the publication of a report on the use of sun
screens. CRC is not only flagging up the problem but also going some way
towards providing a solution.
The broadsheet press and news media were able to draw on CRC’s
presentation of startling research from Australia on an escalating
disease in the UK, while the popular press were tempted by the Samantha
Fox link. Cover Up enables high street chains to add customer care and
health education to a high volume seasonal product.