Timebomb (2000)


Read more about the Timebomb campaign

Timebomb was launched in January 2000, following the success of the How to Remove a Skin Cancer campaign. With a media spend of only $100,000 per year over two summer periods, a significant part of the strategy was to gain unpaid media promotions through television and radio news outlets. This strategy provided SunSmart with excellent coverage and additional support for the paid media campaign.

Support from television networks was very strong, resulting in many community service announcements; however, as a result of the limited budget, the awareness level of the Timebomb campaign was just over 50%.

Timebomb provided SunSmart with the opportunity to communicate about preventing skin cancer and detecting it early. SunSmart received a letter from a melanoma patient who expressed their appreciation for the commercial. After viewing the advertisement, they had a spot and lump checked, which was found to be a melanoma that was treated effectively thanks to early detection.


Tattoo (2003)


Read more about the Tattoo campaign

Tattoo was produced in response to evidence that many young Australians think they are safe if they tan but don't burn and that a tan looks 'attractive' and ‘healthy'. The advertisement carries the tagline 'Skin cancer – it's killer body art'.

The target group for this advertisement was 17–24 year olds. When focus tested among this group, the advertisement was considered credible and the tattoo was regarded as a symbol of youth culture. Importantly, most of the participants said it would make them think about their tanning behaviours.

The campaign, launched during National Skin Cancer Action Week in November 2003, used television, radio and additional promotional material, such as posters for community health settings and a resource kit for secondary school teachers of health, media studies, english and personal development. The kit included a curriculum book and video, which featured The Making of Tattoo, a documentary about the making of the advertisement.

The television and radio advertisement went to air in January 2004 and again in January 2005 with a total budget of $390,000 over the two years.

The awareness levels of the advertisement when researched in 2005 found that 71% of those interviewed remembered seeing the Tattoo advertisement and 78% thought it would influence their tanning behaviour.


Clare Oliver: No Tan is Worth Dying For (2008)

Clare Oliver: No Tan is Worth Dying For

Read more about Clare Oliver: No Tan is Worth Dying For

In August 2007, a young Melbourne woman brought the issue of solariums to the attention of many Australians. Battling end-stage melanoma, Clare Oliver had only weeks to live, yet she decided to use her remaining time and energy to make certain other people understood the dangers of solarium use.

In the final weeks of her life, Clare's story received significant public and media attention, and, more importantly, she achieved major change. In Victoria, the State Health Minister Daniel Andrews announced that the solarium industry would be regulated and other states have since followed suit.

Given the overwhelming public response to Clare's story, Cancer Council Australia and SunSmart, together with support from the Clare Oliver Foundation, decided to make a television commercial featuring footage from Clare's only two television interviews on the ABC's 7:30 Report and 60 Minutes.

Clare's family gave permission for the advertisement to be made, and Clare's oncologist, Associate Professor Grant McArthur from the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, was also involved in the development of the advertisement.

Media attention about Clare's story was strongly focused on her use of solariums. However, Clare also talked about her sun exposure and desire for a tan. Cancer Council felt that focusing this new television advertisement on tanning would have an impact on young people more broadly and therefore have a greater public health impact.

The advertisement's main message is ‘no tan is worth dying for'. In Clare's own words, ‘choose life, choose to be fair'.

The ABC and Nine Network provided the footage at no cost, and Richard Lowenstein (renowned for his direction of music videos for bands, such as INXS, Hunters and Collectors, and Crowded House, and director of cult Australian films, such as Dogs in space and He died with a felafel in his hand) edited the advertisement.

The advertisement was launched in February 2008 and distributed to television networks nationally as a Community Service Announcement.


Slip, Slop, Slap, Seek & Slide: Sid the Seagull (2008)

Slip! Slop! Slap! Seek! Slide!

Read more about the Slip! Slop! Slap! Seek! Slide! campaign

Over the years, the sun protection message has expanded to Slip! Slop! Slap! Seek! Slide! and Sid the Seagull has returned to our TV screens with a new and improved jingle. Sid asks us to protect ourselves in five ways from skin cancer during sun protection times:

  1. Slip on sun protective clothing that covers as much of your body as possible.
  2. Slop on SPF 30 or higher broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen, at least 20 minutes before sun exposure. Reapply every two hours when outdoors or more often if perspiring or swimming.
  3. Slap on a broad-brimmed hat that shades your face, neck and ears.
  4. Seek shade.
  5. Slide on sunglasses.


Dark Side of Tanning (2009)

Dark Side of Tanning

Read more about the Dark Side of Tanning campaign

If you think tanning gives you a healthy glow, think again.

  • Tanning and sunburn are skin cells in trauma.
  • One damaged skin cell can start a melanoma growing.
  • A melanoma need only be 1mm deep to spread to other parts of the body.

The Dark Side of Tanning campaign aimed to address pro-tanning attitudes, understanding of the severity of melanoma and knowledge of the link between overexposure to UV radiation and melanoma.

A series of different 'tanner moments' were portrayed, each focusing on a different setting. These advertisements challenged the misconception that a tan looks healthy and graphically illustrated how a melanoma can spread throughout the body. The two 30 second and 15 second television commercials were supported by outdoor media advertisements.

The Dark Side of Tanning campaign was also closely linked to the Wes Bonny story, a testimonial campaign which told the real life story of 26-year-old Wes Bonny who died of melanoma in March 2010. Both campaigns were developed by the Cancer Institute NSW.

The SunSmart program first implemented the Dark Side of Tanning campaign in Victoria during the summer of 2009–10, with funding from the State Government and VicHealth. Further funding saw the campaign repeated every summer from 2010 to 2015.

In Victoria, the Dark Side of Tanning campaign has been successful in challenging pro-tanning attitudes and reporting behavioural change in the target audiences, with young people reporting that they were less likely to get a suntan after watching the TVC and more likely to increase their level of sun protection. Results also suggest that while tanning continues to have widely positive associations, the campaign has contributed to the understanding that tanning is not healthy.


SunSmart program

Our world leading SunSmart program is dedicated to reducing skin cancer incidence, morbidity and mortality.

Meet the team

Meet the SunSmart team working tirelessly behind the scenes.

Media & communications

We provide trustworthy, credible and authoritative commentary on sun protection and skin cancer.

Contact us

Got a question? There are a number of ways to get in touch with SunSmart.