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Public Service Ads Focus on Sun Protection, Skin Cancer Detection

Public Service Ads Focus on Sun Protection, Skin Cancer Detection

NEW YORK—The American Academy of Dermatology has unveiled three new public service advertising campaigns targeting a broad audience with the message that prevention and early detection are the best weapons against skin cancer.

Professional golfer Hale Irwin, Senior Player of the Year in 1997 and 1998, is featured in the “KNOW Skin Cancer: Cover Up” campaign, which consists of televised public service announcements, print ads, and posters scheduled to appear in media outlets throughout the country.

The Golf Channel will carry two TV spots in which Irwin offers his “tips for the smart golfer,” including use of a broad-spectrum sunscreen and wearing a broad-brimmed hat while on the links.

Five Ways to Die on a Golf Course

One of the print ads delivers the following blunt message. “Five ways to die on the golf course”:

  1. Hit by a golf ball.

  2. Run over by a golf cart.

  3. Whacked by a golf club.

  4. Struck by lightning.

  5. Forgot your hat.

The Academy has also teamed up with Major League Baseball. Throughout the 1999 baseball season, volunteer dermatologists will give skin cancer screenings to the players, coaches, families, and front-office staff of selected teams.

The leadoff screening took place at Shea Stadium, with the New York Mets marking Melanoma Monday (May 3) by having their skin examined for signs of cancer. “Professional baseball players and their fans spend an enormous amount of time in the sun during peak sun hours,” said Darrell Rigel, MD, president of the Academy. “We’re hoping that by participating in the screenings, the players will serve as role models to the public.”

Mets first baseman John Olerud, whose father is a dermatologist, was asked how to encourage teenage athletes to use sunscreen on the playing field. “They should think of it as part of their safety equipment,” he suggested. “It’s as important as taping up before the game.”

A more sobering campaign features Donald Biederman, who lost his nose and nearly his life to nonmelanoma skin cancer. After recounting a typical American sun-seeking youth, he tells of discovering a small red spot on the end of his nose when he was in his 60s. The spot turned out to be a highly invasive cancer requiring more than 30 surgeries, including Mohs surgery that followed the malignancy along his infraorbital nerve to the threshold of his brain.

In one of a pair of television spots, the camera follows a boy playing on the beach and sitting on a boat. “When I was a kid, we all went to the beach all the time. Summer’s warm, we’re out on the water, it’s really nice. It never occurred to me that I would pay a price for that decades later,” the voiceover says.

The camera returns to Mr. Biederman, who removes his prosthetic nose, revealing a dramatically disfigured face. The Academy requests that broadcasters air the spots during adult viewing hours because of the disturbing nature of some of the visuals.

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