Telum Vox Pop: Keeping sun-safety comms fresh
(Photo credit: © Pavel Chernobrivets | Dreamstime.com)
It’s 40 years since the words “Slip, Slop, Slap” first entered our lexicon. In the decades since, we have heard sun safety messages from cancer research organisations to governments to commercial brands. In fact, every summer across New Zealand and Australia, we hear about the importance of sun safety, and the effects the sun has on us if we don’t use sunscreen or cover up. But how do you keep it fresh year after year, and ensure it effectively reminds people in these sunny climes, and reaches new generations?
We had a chat to the Melanoma Institute Australia and sunscreen brand, Ultra Violette, about some of the ways they market sun safety, to keep it front of mind:
How do you keep the sun safety message relevant to consumers?
Matthew Browne - CEO, Melanoma Institute Australia
It is critical that the message to consumers remains relevant and consistently delivered. With, for example, high school age students, we deliver the sun-safe message via our SunSafe Student Ambassador Programme - essentially, having the message delivered by the students’ peers, rather than by our clinicians at Melanoma Institute Australia. With the 20-39 age bracket, where melanoma is the most common cancer, we utilised our partnership with TikTok to deliver the sun-safe message via their platform in a “voice” relevant and impactful for this demographic.
Ava Chandler-Matthews - Co-founder, Ultra Violette
Education is a key pillar of our brand. Rather than trying to scare people, we aim to present the facts about the impact of the sun on skin health. There's no denying the sun plays a massive role in premature skin ageing, so our approach is to talk about sun safety in a way that brings immediacy, focusing more on addressing skin concerns like wrinkles, fine lines, pigmentation and volume loss in order to educate consumers to make smart sun choices without overwhelming or preaching to them. Social media is a huge communication tool for us to educate. We use infographics, Instagram Reels and TikTok videos to create easy to digest content that speaks to people in a language they understand and cuts through.
Sun safety has become embedded in our everyday routine for many, but at the same time, we’re seeing influencers with tanned skin and “beachy” look promoting it. Do you believe there is a mixed message there?
Not necessarily. Being in the sun is a big part of our culture. We wouldn't align with an influencer that promotes sunbaking or tanning, however we don't really play in that space. Sunscreen is an everyday product, not a beach product. We aim to take the association away from the beach and tanning and we avoid activating on the beach for that reason.
We do see this message is mixed and difficult for young people to interpret the correct behaviour. With daily images of influencers with tanned skin, lying on the beach without any reference to what should / can be done safely, and active promotion that tanning is healthy and beautiful, makes it extremely difficult for us at Melanoma Institute Australia to cut-through with our sun-safe message and tips for preventing melanoma and skin cancer. The TikTok campaign: 'Tanning. That’s cooked' has provided an excellent pathway to try and “unmix” this message. If influential creators on TikTok provide support to the sun-safe message, and supported also by TikTok’s sun safe pop ups, we hope to slow or halt this dangerous tanning trend.
We still see a lot of people tanning in the sun wanting that “healthy glow”. How do you go about promoting the fact that having a tan isn’t actually healthy?
By the continual repeating of the message that tanning is not healthy. Tanning is actually the skin cells in trauma trying to protect the body from potentially life-threatening UV over exposure. TikTok heard our plea that social media and influencers can provide a significant health benefit support message if committed enough to so do. We hope and trust that other social media platforms follow their lead.
Being in the sun is a quintessential part of our lifestyle. But the rates of melanoma are too high for anyone to be cavalier about lying in the sun all day here. Our UV levels are way too high. It's stupid. So it's about being in the sun safely, which not only includes daily SPF application, but also wearing a hat and protective clothing. A bronzed glowy look is easily achieved using fake tan and makeup, and we hope that this is the way people choose to achieve it.
As long as people are informed, they can make their own choices.