Could A Tattoo Artist Save Your Life?

If this ad campaign catches on, it’s possible.

Ogilvy Rio (a Brazilian ad agency) and Sol de Janeiro (a sunscreen brand) joined forces to create a campaign that trained 450 tattoo artists to detect signs of skin cancer on their clients.

It’s refreshing to see an ad campaign that’s using tattoos to look out for their consumer’s heath. Remember the people who sold their bodies as billboards for new websites, and now their ink has outlived those companies? Or more recently, how a Michigan tanning salon gave Nikkole Paulun from 16 and Pregnant, free tanning for life after she got a tattoo of the salon’s logo (let’s hope the tanning salon stays in business for that long).

The tattoo artists against skin cancer campaign really knew its audience. Brazilian beaches tend to be flooded with tans and tattoos, and where there are tans, there’s a chance of skin cancer.

Skin cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer, more common than breast and prostate cancer combined. This campaign couldn’t have come at a better time, as May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month.

So besides reminding people to buy sunscreen, how effective was this campaign? Well let’s look at the numbers.

450 Brazilian tattoo artists were trained, and on average, an artist gets about six customers a day, meaning roughly 18,900 people could get checked for skin cancer a week. The campaign also encourages other tattoo artists to join, directing them to a website where they could get certified to detect skin cancer.

The case study did help prevent cancer, as some tattoo artists found precancerous moles on their clients, and directed them straight to a dermatologist.

Now, I’m not saying tattoos will prevent skin cancer. Or that getting a tattoo will make you skin cancer free. It’s kind of like that Sex & The City episode (sorry, I could relate almost anything to Sex & The City) where Samantha went to get a boob job, only to find out she had breast cancer. I think this campaign a great way to raise skin cancer awareness for people who already were planning on getting ink. But why stop at tattoos? Couldn’t other skin professionals implement this idea it as well?

Masseuses, estheticians, make-up artists – really anyone working with skin, should know how to look out for skin cancer. Perhaps it could be part of the cosmetology degree. Or maybe tanning salons could offer a complementary skin cancer check along with their $100 a month all access tanning bed membership.

What do you think about this campaign? Could it work here in America? And should other skin professionals get on board?

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