How not to advertise the cancer risk of tanning beds

// 21 July 2008


Comments From You

Laurel Dearing // Posted 21 July 2008 at 11:18 am

=O soft porn (from voyeuristic perspective) and violent snapping? doesnt even say why or how! good for making you jump but very little else!

Jennifer-Ruth // Posted 21 July 2008 at 11:30 am

Holy fuck – what country is that ad from?! That is just…that is so horrible.

katarina // Posted 21 July 2008 at 11:52 am

After I saw a couple of really creepy LG ads I spent some time wondering what kind of sick fughs think up and approve and pay for ads like this. I think their logic goes as follows:

Sex doesn’t sell any more. These days everyone watches so much hard-core porn that you’ve got to show cute chicks getting stalked (as in LG phone ads) or maimed to get the attention of hip young guys like me and my colleagues at the advertising agency. Well, maybe not so young, but I’ve still got it, you know.

What? There are people who don’t spend their spare time watching and talking about torture porn? Well, I don’t know them or hang out with them so they can’t be worth it.

Chloe // Posted 21 July 2008 at 1:49 pm

Was it just me that totally zoned out the second she started taking her top off? Like, “Oh riiight, this advert isn’t actually aimed at me, it’s porn in disguise as a PSA.”

Why can’t they show the kind of damage it does to your skin – including skin cancer? Surely that would hit the kind of woman (or man) who uses a sunbed a lot harder?

Lara The Second // Posted 21 July 2008 at 3:57 pm

EW! That is horrific!

Redheadinred // Posted 21 July 2008 at 5:26 pm

And, it’s not just women who use sunbeds and are at risk. I bet men are much more likely than women to try and get a ‘real’ tan rather than using a fake tan. They need to show some men in tan ads, because I think men still think of fake tan as ‘effeminate’.

JENNIFER DREW // Posted 21 July 2008 at 7:44 pm

Oh look another porn feature for the ‘boys’ to ogle at. But wait a moment – this is supposed to be a public health service message so it cannot possibly be promoting contempt for women can it? Yes it can because nowadays porn sells and of course women are sexualised commodities which explains why once again a woman is being exploited not a man.

lucy // Posted 21 July 2008 at 8:19 pm

I’m not surprised that such a gross add comes from DK ( see also: ), however it’s a little unusual choosing to link tanning with violence now, considering the recent spate of bombings at solariums in Copenhagen ( )

Zenobia // Posted 22 July 2008 at 6:02 pm

Guys, she’s getting on a sunbed, she’s not going to wear a duffel coat and balaclava. I really, really don’t see anyone knocking one off over this, particularly with the wealth of specifically-designed material out there.

And yeah, those filthy danes and their softcore porn, those middle-eastern guys immolating their wives, those french women always sniffing croissants and having underage sex. Could we avoid comments along the lines of ‘I’m not surprised at this coming from X country’, please? Perpetuating national stereotypes makes some of us who don’t happen to be a default human being from the UK feel a little excluded, should we wish to get involved in feminism – I no longer do, as I’ve learned my lesson.

That said, I only ever comment to whinge about this kind of stuff, so feel free to ignore me.

Leigh // Posted 22 July 2008 at 10:34 pm

Oh look the woman is blonde, skinny and has a large bust size. She must be a porn star.

Yeah, nice one guys *fumes*.

Legible Susan // Posted 22 July 2008 at 10:37 pm


We’re not all ignoring you! Sometimes there are a lot of people calling somebody out, like on that other thread today … hm, they seem to have deleted, along with the original offensive comments. I guess people didn’t clock “DK” as being the same kind of slur.

Zenobia // Posted 23 July 2008 at 12:09 pm


Yeah, I meant more that I tend to wash my hands of feminism until there’s something to complain about, so you know, it’s not really mine to complain about.

In general:

Something isn’t wrong in proportion to how many people it offends, and this is a case in point – I’m not just taking issue with the idea of those filthy danes being so sex-obsessed, there’s something of the same problem in the assumption that Danish marketing guys would be all young men sitting around going ‘I know guys, let’s have some torture porn!’. First of all, a lot of marketing people are women. Secondly, the concept of ‘torture porn’ is specific to the UK and possibly th US – even if the idea of knocking one off over dismembered women is probably a little more widespread, conceptualising it as torture porn is specific to the UK and US, possibly even specific to certain feminist subcultures. Looking at this ad, it’s not perfect, but there’ really very little I find problematic about it. Tanning salons are marketed toward women, and I would like to see some feminist commentary on the fact that every poor area of every town in the UK seems to have a tanning salon or six and an off-licence, and perhaps an attempt to correlate this with skin and lung cancer deaths among working class women.

This might seem a little more useful and compassionate than harping on about the ‘kinds of women’ who use tanning salons, and how they’re so shallow that they’d care less about dying than about having bad skin. You’re above that kind of thing? Great. Perhaps you’d like to ressuscitate one of those 24-year-old single mums whose files I saw last year, who died of skin cancer, and tell them to stop caring about their looks and read a book instead.

Jess McCabe // Posted 23 July 2008 at 12:27 pm

Perhaps I should have clarified in the post – the thing which I think makes this advert offensive and tasteless, is the bit at the end which shows the woman being violently crushed by the sun bed – at which point, it look to me like her body is represented by a mannequin/blow-up doll. The advert is obviously not porn, but there are a number of problematic things about how it is represented, not least the juxtaposition of image of a woman oiling herself up, apparently shown on a hidden camera, with the violent ending. The use of images of women being violently dismembered is problematic for me.

I should point out, perhaps, that my mother died of cancer when I was 14 – cancer which started as a skin cancer, so you can imagine I feel very strongly about the need to get messages out there about the risks of tanning, in a salon or the sun. Just not like this.

Anna // Posted 23 July 2008 at 12:45 pm

I may be rather dense – but to me this looked far more like an advert on the dangers of sunbeds killing you because they’re not being properly maintained..

Zenobia // Posted 23 July 2008 at 2:28 pm

the thing which I think makes this advert offensive and tasteless, is the bit at the end which shows the woman being violently crushed by the sun bed – at which point, it look to me like her body is represented by a mannequin/blow-up doll.

Yeah, I see what you mean about that. Although they would have to use a mannequin for that shot, I should hope! It also looks odd because it’s completely bloodless, but maybe they decided blood would be too gory, it being a cancer awareness ad and not a David Cronenberg movie.

My thought when watching it is that they made her look a bit like an insect being caught by a carnivorous plant, the point of which would be the sunbed looking predatory. I don’t really have much of a problem with that.

By the way, any bile in my previous comment wasn’t aimed at you at all, more at the ‘porn’ and ‘kind of people who get fake tans’ comments, neither of which were yours.

Cara // Posted 23 July 2008 at 2:39 pm

Yeah wtf is up with that ad?

Seriously – it did not have to show her stripping and putting on oil or whatever it was, for ages, as if viewed by a hidden camera…it was more like a strip tease than actually how a woman would undress…why do that unless to titillate the lads? Why have the violent end?

Yes – sunbeds can kill if not properly maintained…there was a well publicised case where a young woman was electrocuted and knocked out, ending up out for I think 2 hours or something like that, ended up with 3rd degree burns. Nice. But this ad was clearly not making that point. If you said “tanning can kill you” to the average person, the first thing they will think of is skin cancer.

I do agree that the “I’m not surprised at this coming from Denmark” comment was out of order. Generalisations about any nationality, ethnicity, etc. are wrong. And the Danes hardly have the monopoly on misogyny, in fact, Scandinavian societies generally are far more equal than ours.

But – I didn’t see any comments about the type of women who use sunbeds.

Zenobia // Posted 23 July 2008 at 3:02 pm

I may be rather dense – but to me this looked far more like an advert on the dangers of sunbeds killing you because they’re not being properly maintained..

Hell yeah, and what about those anvils not being properly secured against gravity, giving people cancer of the three-dimensionality.

Zenobia // Posted 23 July 2008 at 3:46 pm

In case you hadn’t seen it, guys, there’s a Danish Cancer Society logo at the end.

I really don’t see what’s soft porn about this. She strips to her underwear and applies lotion, while looking in a mirror to see what she’s doing. What’s so unusual about that?

Soirore // Posted 23 July 2008 at 4:22 pm

I think some of the commenters are misunderstanding Lucy’s comments above. She said that she wasn’t surprised that the ad came from DK and then linked to an article about the proliferation of female nudity in Danish advertising. At no point did she say that Danes were “filthy” and into “softcore porn”. It appeared to me as if Lucy is just more familiar with Danish media than the rest of us might be.

Please don’t automatically accuse someone for demonising or stereotyping a nation when that is not what they were doing.

Personally I was disturbed by both the excessive oily striptease and the violent death. Both completely incompatible with the safety message.

Ella // Posted 23 July 2008 at 6:01 pm

Such a shame that the ‘sex sells’ method is being used even when targeting a group who are (I would guess) predominantly female. And is there a message in there that if you’re a woman and you’re vain ( what you look like) then you ‘deserve’ to meet such a grizzly end?

Davina // Posted 24 July 2008 at 3:12 pm

That made me feel sick – the way the machine slams down on her and pretty much snaps her in two. A good advert would show in an entertaining way what the risks of tanning actually are and how to prevent them. This was not a good advert.

Not to mention that I hate these kind of ‘shock’ adverts anyway.

Emma // Posted 16 August 2008 at 12:09 pm

Yikes! That had the shock effect it was going for.

Wasn’t the point that:

it was playing to / aimed at the people who would be drawn in by this sort (ie sex sells) of ad, and just as their attention was at its peak (when she was about to undo her bra) they were…snapped out of it?

Well, it certainly shocked me.

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