WORKSHOP: Case Study - Spunky way to get a message across

Dominic Wood

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Background: The Prostate Cancer Charity launched the latest element of its Secret Sex Gland Campaign - Are you More Spunky than a Monkey? - in June. Despite the fact that prostate cancer does not usually affect men below the age of 50, the postcard campaign was created to help younger men become more aware of their prostate gland and the role it plays in men's sexual functioning.

This campaign followed on from the first successful Secret Sex Gland venture - Journey to Planet Prostate, a website game in August 2002. Again, the subject was approached with humour and was launched to coincide with National Men's Health Week (9-15 June) and to support its theme, 'improving men's sexual health'.

Devised in collaboration with Boomerang Media and designed by Bluefrog, the campaign followed the results of an ICM telephone poll that surveyed 1,000 people aged over 18, which indicated low levels of knowledge about what the prostate gland does. Only 13 per cent correctly answered that it produces some of the fluid for semen. About a quarter thought the prostate opens or closes the bladder and a third didn't have a clue.

Aims: The main objective was to make people aware that a third of a man's ejaculate is produced by the prostate gland and that on average a man produces about 3mls of semen per ejaculation.

"We wanted to encourage greater awareness of the prostate gland and thereby make men more receptive to prostate health and prostate cancer messages in future," said Shaun O'Leary, the charity's director of operations.

How it worked The campaign, launched on postcards that were distributed free in 750 bars throughout the UK, encouraged adult males to log on to a competition at www.secretsexgland.com. The question on the back of the postcard directing people online was: "Are you more spunky than a monkey?"

Anyone who visited the website and placed various animals in the correct order according to their seminal volume, was eligible to win holiday vouchers donated by Club 18-30. The deadline for the competition was 11 July and all correct entries were placed in a final draw.

Results: More than 134,000 (84 per cent) of the 160,000 distributed postcards were picked up. "This figure exceeded the next most popular postcard by almost seven per cent," said O'Leary. "Take-up was enormously encouraging throughout all areas of the UK.

"The distinct design of the card and its 'in-your-face' message went a long way to attracting the attention of our target market of young, sexually interested males," he added.

Women as well as men logged on to the competition website, but the charity's initial poll findings that men of all ages have little basic understanding of their prostate gland were confirmed in the competition. Only 6 per cent of the 400 entries answered the question correctly.

Although the number of actual entries was relatively small, the charity felt the campaign had succeeded in targeting a younger audience, who have little or no interest in prostate health. Discussions are now taking place to update and improve the content of the site.

For all those desperate to know the figures: the human male is more spunky than a monkey, which produces only 1.3mls of semen, but isn't a patch on a camel, which produces 20mls, an elephant, 70mls, and the most spunky of them all, a pig, which produces a hefty 250mls.

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