Campaign Highlights Skin Cancer Risks

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Thu, 06/23/2016 - 11:05 -- Nick Dager

Looking Good uses humor to draw men's attention to the dangers of skin cancer.The Colonie provided editorial, FX and finishing services for a pair of public service advertisements for the American Academy of Dermatology. The :60 spots feature sharply contrasting storylines and approaches to educating two high-risk demographics about the dangers of sun exposure and skin cancer. Looking Good targets men over 50 using a comedic scenario to communicate a strategy for early detection, while Arms tailors its message about prevention to young women between 14 and 18, using a touching story to educate them about the risks of tanning.

HY Connect called upon the Chicago-based editorial and post boutique’s editor, Tom Pastorelle, to weave the footage into engaging vignettes that draw viewers into their stories and drive home these potentially life-saving messages.

Cut to a contagious beat, Looking Good takes a light-hearted approach to a serious issue. The :60 PSA opens with a portly middle-aged man sprightly dancing around the bathroom with a towel wrapped around his waist, occasionally pausing to strike a comical pose in the mirror as he admires himself.

Adding to the upbeat mood, a voiceover encourages his antics before segueing to some hard facts: Men over 50 are in the group most likely to develop skin cancer, including melanoma, the cancer that kills one person every hour. As the voiceover talks about the importance of examining your skin regularly and finding a partner to help, the man’s wife, who had been watching from the doorway, entertained and amused by her husband's antics, nudges him out of the bathroom, assumingly taking her cue from the voiceover to help him with the exam.

Arms educates women about the risks of tanning salons.Pastorelle and agency creatives Norbert Shimkus and Jason Halverson’s first challenge was selecting the style of music that would work best. After trying some ‘70s funk and ‘80s new wave tracks, they finally decided that although the retro music was comedic, it distracted from the Smessage of the spot, and so they went with more contemporary dance music. The editor brought his quirky sense of humor to the cutting of the PSA, embedding the serious message in a music-driven, fast-paced scenario. His frenetic style of editing, heightened the humor during the farcical dance vignette.

“I didn’t want any of the character’s dance moves to be repetitive, so I went for some less obvious moments as the man grooved to the music,” says Pastorelle. “While the script called for a more serious mood as he examines himself for spots on his skin, I kept these sections as brief as possible – without sacrificing the impact of the message – and then kicked the humor back into high gear for the rest of the spot.”

The over-the-top humor gets people’s attention in a light-hearted way, drawing them in to think about a serious issue and demonstrating how working a simple self-exam into their routine can help prevent serious health issues down the road.

In contrast, Arms takes a hard-hitting approach to warn teen girls that tanning now – both indoors and out – can have scary consequences in the future, including melanoma. The spot’s opening scene sets a fun, summertime mood as two best friends set out to enjoy a beautiful day. As the spot follows their lives, from high school prom and spring break to a friend's wedding, we see them comparing their tans and lying out in the sun, oblivious to the repercussions.

Pastorelle slows the pace to elevate the emotion of the storyline as one of the girls realizes the consequences of years of tanning. The spot takes on a somber tone as she tells her friend, “I can’t go tanning anymore — doctor’s orders” and we notice a bandage on her arm. The PSA ends in a hospital room as she shares her diagnosis with her friend: Stage III melanoma. The voiceover informs its young target audience that melanoma is the second most common cancer in women 15 to 29, and encourages them to stop tanning and visit to learn more.

“For this spot we needed to find a balance between crafting a touching story that would also hold the attention of this young demographic,” says Pastorelle. “We also had to use the spot as an effective vehicle for educating young women about the potentially fatal dangers of the sun.” 

The Colonie’s Lyndsay McCully created the title treatments used in-between the vignettes of the young women. Light flares were added as transitions as they faded in and out, creating the overall feel of the sun beating down. The titles cards, which read — You love how it feels to lay out, You can always stop tanning when you get older, If you get older, One person dies every hour from melanoma — clearly deliver the essence of the PSA’s message.

McCully also created the AAD’s animated logos for Arms and Looking Good. Tom Dernulc, the online editor for both spots, also created effects for Arms that altered the complexion of the girls with discolored spots on the skin and touched up the footage. 

“This is the third campaign I’ve collaborated on with HY Connect,” say Pastorelle. “Working with the agency’s creatives Kevin Houlihan, Michael Matykiewicz, Colin Quinn, Norbert Shimkus and Jason Halverson is a great collaborative experience. Their ideas and perspective were invaluable. We worked as creative partners throughout the process: I’d come up with the feel and pace for each segment of the spot, and then we worked together to make sure that the messages about the perils of tanning and the importance of skin self-exams were front and center.” 

“We wanted Looking Good to be engaging and comedic while delivering its important message, and we wanted Arms to tell a story that both touched and educated young women, instead of scaring them.  Getting across the statistics and seriousness of melanoma was key, but so was communicating the effective, simple precautions people can take to protect their skin from the sun,” adds the editor. “Both spots achieved these goals, and The Colonie’s team is proud to have contributed to an AAD campaign about the importance of skin cancer prevention and detection.”

The Colonie