SunSmart history

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Below is an overview of our campaigns and activity over the past few years. Please contact us  for more information about the campaigns.


Throughout the summer in 2014, we ran a campaign in partnership with NIVEA Sun to encourage people to enjoy the sun safely at home and abroad. 

Learn more about this campaign


In 2013 we rolled out our successful R UV Ugly campaign to five cities in England and extended the reach of the campaign with a partnership with Heatworld.

We created a new video 'Sunbed Strip’ designed to show the cosmetic effects of using sunbeds.

We rolled out our Skin Cancer Kills campaign to men aged 50 plus in Devon, testing using our nurse helpline to encourage men to be aware of skin changes. 

We continued to work in partnership with NiveaSUN on a joint campaign in press, radio and beaches featuring a popular creative of the sun has got his hat on to encourage families to enjoy the sun safely.


Our Made in the Shade campaign ran during summer 2012 and aimed to get young people to enjoy the sun safely by making the shade a cool place to be.

T4 presenter Will Best helped us to promote the campaign:

We received funding from the Department of Health and an educational grant from Bristol Myers Squibb to run local campaigns in the South West and North West of England and encouraging men aged 50 plus to recognise the signs of skin cancer.

Our work in the this area has found that direct mail id a cost effective method of engaging some groups of men over 50. Distributing information and raising awareness in the local community has also shown promising signs of improving the early detection of skin cancer. 

We were commissioned by the Scottish Government to run our award winning R UV Ugly campaign in four regions in Scotland, targeting young sunbed users.


Campaign activity carried out in 2011 included a comprehensive media campaign with T4 and Girls Aloud star Nicola Roberts, who starred in a video campaign about how she stays SunSmart.

Winter 2011/12 saw the introduction of the R UV Ugly campaign to target young sunbed users and 'influencers' of sunbed users with information about the cosmetic damage and health risks associated with using sunbeds.

The campaign involved offering UV skin scans in shopping centres to show young sunbed users the cosmetic effects over overexposure to UV.  The campaign had a convincing impact on our audience with 75% of sunbed users who, before the scan, said they expected to use sunbeds more or the same in the future, changing their minds immediately after their scan by saying they expected to use them less or not at all. Encouragingly follow up data indicated that this intention was sustained with 46% of respondents reporting they‟d stopped using sunbeds or use sunbeds less eight weeks after the campaign.


We worked in partnership with the online retailer ASOS and Bauer Media.

The partnership aimed to communicate the importance of preventing sunburn and enjoying the sun safely to a young audience. The specially designed 'Fashion Forecast' tool on the ASOS website promoted SunSmart messaging whilst offering users the chance to create a SunSmart outfit to suit their plans and the weather. 'Advertorials' were also placed in Heat and More magazines, with radio ads on TotalKiss FM, Heat Radio and the Big City Network of regional radio stations. Results from pre- and post-intervention testing showed a positive shift in self-reported attitudes towards sun protection.

For a second year, we ran our award winning online social networking campaign Skindividual. The campaign engaged young people with messages about the importance of sunburn by asking them to design their perfect SunSmart gig.

The ‘Sun Damages’ Roadshow demonstrated to young people the damage that overexposure to UV can do to their skin. The Roadshow visited beach, city and festival locations across England.


We commissioned some research to better understand attitudes to sunburn among a range of different people. The findings were instrumental in the development of targeted messages and resources.

Skindividual was an online youth-focused PR campaign. Skindividual was populated online via peer-to-peer social networking and the largest social network won a private gig to see Ladyhawke in London. The campaign was effective in promoting SunSmart messaging across a number of youth-focused media channels. Results from pre- and post-intervention testing also showed a positive shift in self-reported attitudes towards sun protection.

Our SunSmart schools competition provided schools with an opportunity to get pupils thinking about SunSmart in a creative way. Twelve winning schools received grants to build shade structures on their premises.


In 2008 we focused on teenagers and young adults aged 12-24 years. The key messages were the importance of avoiding sunburn and the dangers of sunbed use (especially by those under 18).

In the summer of 2008 we launched targeted PR activity to raise awareness of the dangers of sunbed use amongst young people. Sunbed Trauma was a piece of street theatre carried out on the streets of Leicester, Manchester and Newcastle to address some of the common misconceptions around sunbed use. The activity helped contribute to the continued success of SunSmart in the local media, with at least 27 pieces of coverage during the week of the activity.

A key achievement of the 2008 campaign came in the summer when the Scottish Government agreed to legislate to better regulate sunbed salons. This decision followed a concerted lobbying campaign by Ken Macintosh MSP, supported by Cancer Research UK and a number of other stakeholders.


In 2007 we focused on offering sun protection advice to people going on holiday.

In summer 2007 we also developed new resources explaining the dangers of using sunbeds. The leaflets and posters show 'before and after' images of skin which had been damaged by sunbed use. They explain the truth behind common tanning myths give facts sunbeds and skin cancer.


In 2006 we changed our focus to skin cancer prevention amongst men and outdoor workers. Although fewer men than women develop malignant melanoma, melanoma survival rates are worse in men than in women. We raised awareness of the importance of early detection with a new skin cancer kills poster and flyer. In September 2006 we also organised a Sunbed Symposium at our offices in London. At this meeting we discussed the latest evidence and research regarding the use of sunbeds in the UK.


Developing our contacts with schools, in 2005 we developed a range of resources for teachers to use in the classroom. These included worksheets and activity plans for both nurseries and primaries. That spring we wrote to all UK schools with a copy of our SunSmart school policy guidelines and links to teaching resources.

We had an enthusiastic response to our resources and thousands of entries into our "draw a SunSmart me" nursery and primary competition. Most schools returned an evaluation form with their competition entries and these were used to evaluate our activities alongside online feedback forms.


Building on the publicity generated in 2003, in 2004 we focused on children and young people. We produced a new poster showing two little boys going red on a beach with the slogan Kids cook quick! Both professionals and the public told us the poster was eye-catching and thought-provoking. 

Order Kids Cook Quick posters

In 2004 we ran the first SunSmart primary school competition to design a SunSmart hat. We also spoke to older pupils at 'popwatch' events around the country. To evaluate these activities we visited schools in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland and talked to teachers about what they wanted from our campaign.


After receiving funding from the UK Health Departments, Cancer Research UK launched the SunSmart campaign in March 2003. We began with a press release about how Britain has more skin cancer deaths than Australia, which generated coverage from major newspapers, radio stations and television channels.

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