Skin Cancer UK ‘Melanoma Law’: The ‘GRWM’ reality

skin cancer ukThose of you of a certain age might remember when, if you came back from a holiday abroad without a suntan, people would question whether you had had a good time. After all, the theory went, if you weren’t burnt to a crisp it must have been pissing down the whole time.

Of course, these days, many people opt for a spray tan instead, while even more – especially, it seems, the TikTok generation – spend hours and hours in sunbed salons trying to achieve “the look”, despite repeated warnings over the dangers of being exposed to UV rays.

It is this latter group who are being targeted by a new campaign from charity Skin Cancer UK which is calling for a change to the outdated Sunbed Regulation Act, now 13 years old.

Just as regulations have been updated to remind consumers of the dangers of nicotine on cigarette packaging, the campaign calls on the UK Government to mandate showing the risks of UV exposure on sunbeds and in salons. The campaign asks for people to sign a Skin Cancer UK petition for the issue to be raised in Parliament hosted on

Created by Ogilvy Health UK, the activity spans out of home, PR, influence, VOD and social, and is spearheaded by a film which shows the process of placing a physical copy of the Sunbed Regulation Act on a sunbed emitting the same amount of UV rays legally allowed.

The progressive damage to the paper is used as a stark reminder of the cancerous effects of UV exposure on skin. The burnt legislation will also be used in OOH placements, which go nationwide this week.

The progressive damage to the paper becomes a stark reminder of the cancerous effects of UV exposure on skin, regular sunbed use increases the risk of skin cancer by 60% – and UV radiation is the third biggest cause of cancer in the UK.

The campaign includes case studies such as Ross Robinson, a regular sunbed user who found a lesion on his back, as well as other cancer sufferers who have been affected by sunbed use. In one of the executions, Ross holds up the crisp paper after being exposed to UV rays in the sunbed.

Skin Cancer UK’s work was driven by an urgent need as sunbed trends tap into a new generation through social media. There have been over 200 million TikTok searches on #sunbed in the past 12 months alone and the hashtag also boasts more than 718 million views, with videos including tanning cream and nasal spray reviews, viral hacks for a deeper tan, ‘GRWM’-style videos for the tanning salon, tips for sunbed newbies and even creators sharing alternative tips for sunbeds.

This is coupled with household names like Kim Kardashian jumping on viral trends – most notable ‘I’m… of course I…’ – to then show a tanning bed in her home office.

Ogilvy Health executive creative director John McPartland said: “So much has changed in society in the last 13 years, the Sunbed Regulation Act as it stands simply isn’t fit for purpose. The huge spike in social media trends around using sunbeds in the last year is a reminder why we need to act now.

“Young people are seeing all the perceived benefits of using sunbeds on social media but aren’t being reminded of the dangers their use presents in later life.”

So, what is the consensus around the Decision Marketing office?

Well, with an office full of baldies, gingers and blondes, it may not come as too much of surprise that we are not big fans of the year-round tan, be it in the sun, out of a bottle or on a UV bed. In fact, we tend to cover up more in summer than we do in winter.

Still, everywhere you look, you see a sea of orange – check out Grand National Ladies Day at Aintree Racecourse if you don’t believe us – although some people simply won’t be told.

And, there’s the rub; most people who use sunbeds know they are harmful yet will do anything to get “the look”. We wish this campaign well, but sadly we fear it will fall on deaf ears…

Decision Marketing Adometer: A “burn, baby, burn” 9 out of 10

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