Sex Sells…Preventative Cancer Screening!

It seems in the past several months, public health institutions are reaching out to advertising agencies to enlist there services in a slightly unpredictable way: to sell preventative medical screening practices through porn (or in some cases, fake porn).

The most recent installment in the porn-for-public health realm is work being done by M&C Saatchi Sydney in Australia, to help combat the lack of self-examination amongst high risk males for testicular cancer. In Australia, men are 21% more likely to develop testicular cancer than the world average (not sure why, ask a fellow public health professional) but is 97% curable when detected early. The problem? The high risk target audience never check themselves for testicular cancer. The insight? Over 70% of this high risk target audience watch porn online regularly and are a captive audience during that period.

So, for 2015’s Testicular Cancer Month, M&C Saatchi Sydney partnered with Blue Ball Foundation (an NGO focused on raising awareness and providing counseling services to young men fighting with testicular cancer) and Digital Playground (a massive porn production company) to launch Play With Yourself.

blue balls

Above: Click the image obove to visit the Blue Ball Foundation website to learn more about their work in Australia.

What is it? It’s a surprise video feature embedded into a popular porn-parody of Game of Thrones called Game of Balls, teaching viewers (again, ahem, captive audience) how to perform a testicular examination on themselves to screen for lumps. This surprise video clip announced the launch of PlayWithYourself.org, a micro site where men could learn more about self-screening, get tips and advice, and spread the word amongst other young men.

When Game of Balls launched online in mid-April (in conjunction with the Season 5 launch of Game of Thrones), it resulted (without any PR-coverage) in over 1.5 million unique views. Of course, once the media heard about it, the media coverage was priceless and heard all over the world.

Warning: Do not watch if uncomfortable with the display of the human form and the practice of testicular cancer screening, as images are somewhat graphic.

Last month, McCann Lima launched a PSA to help encourage self-examination for testicular cancer in males aged 15-44 in the form of a fake erotic film with the assistance of porn star Charlotte Stokely entitled “How to Last Longer,” a clever double entendre suggesting a long life without testicular cancer is the best way to ensure a healthy sex life in the future. The video, posted on the hugely popular Pornhub.com, instructs viewers on how to perform a testicular cancer self-examination, without revealing its purpose until the end, so that users don’t see the task as laborious and instead, as a fun activity.

Warning: Do not watch if uncomfortable with the display of the human form and the practice of testicular cancer screening, as images are somewhat graphic.

Around the world, the trend is starting to gain traction, even outside of testicular cancer. Take for instance, the work done by the Alcázar Gynecology Institute in Bolivia around World Breast Cancer Awareness Day in 2014. Through research, they recognized two notable statistics: that traditional breast cancer awareness campaigns weren’t working and, simultaneously, research indicated that 94.73 percent of men watch porn online.

Combining these two findings, DDB Bolivia launched a fake porn video called “Latin Boobs,” posting it on the popular Pornhub website to attract the largest possible audience. The video starts off seemingly as an erotic film, but is quickly informs viewers that “This is not an erotic video,” proceeding to teach men how to perform a breast cancer examination on their female partners.

Warning: Do not watch if uncomfortable with the display of the human form and the practice of breast cancer screening, as images are somewhat graphic.

While it’s not surprising to note that sex sells, as this has been true since the dawn of time, it is interesting to see public health organizations and institutions embrace this obvious fact and try to leverage it for their health objectives.  If porn can lead to a decrease in the most common form of male cancer, then public health organizations stand to learn a lot more moving forward about how to reach their audience.

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