Prostate Cancer Canada brings humour to a touchy issue

The campaign uses some famous fingers to combat stigma about getting checked for the disease.

Famous Fingers

Men may not like talking about their prostate, but they do like talking about movies, music and sports, right?

That was the thinking behind Prostate Cancer Canada’s latest awareness campaign with McCann Canada, which aims to get men talking more openly about their health.

Similar to the foundation’s 2017 “The Alternatives” campaign – which presented men with the options of having their mother, their friend or themselves perform a prostate exam in lieu of a doctor – “The Finger” tackles what McCann chief creative officer, Darren Clarke, calls an “awkward conversation about an awkward part of the body that most guys don’t want to have.”

The goal this year, according to Clarke, was to find a way to spark discussions between men by using humour and talking points like sports, movies, music and history, all the while bringing it back to prostate health.

The multi-platform campaign elements include a 60-second radio spot, print ads, resto-bar posters, a microsite and a digital video that features a group of men in a focus group getting examined by doctors wearing the fictional “Famous Fingers” collection of rubber gloves.

“Too many men put off getting a prostate exam because they don’t like the thought of a doctor’s finger going into their rectum,” the video’s voiceover says. “So we’re testing the ‘Famous Fingers’ collection – a line of latex exam gloves modeled after fingers we think men will like.”

The video goes on to show men judging gloves made to resemble the pointed fingers of Frankenstein, Babe Ruth, Winston Churchill, Otis Redding and Thor – searching for one “famous enough to get you tested.” If none of those appeal, others include James Dean, Bigfoot, Sherlock Holmes and a cyborg.

“The hope is that there’s commentary going back and forth on different social platforms that will get guys talking about it,” Clarke says.

According to Prostate Cancer Canada, over 4,000 Canadian men died from prostate cancer last year and one in seven will be diagnosed with the disease in their lifetime. The foundation encourages men in their forties to get digital rectal examination (DRE) and a baseline prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test from their doctor to ensure early detection.

According to Prostate Cancer Canada president and chief executive officer, Peter Coleridge, the main goal of the campaign is education and awareness.

“We’re really wanting to increase awareness around prostate cancer and stimulate discussion among Canadian men and women about the importance of prostate cancer testing and early detection.”

Reaching their goal meant being bold in their effort to normalize the discussion, according to Coleridge, who says that survival for the disease is close to 100% when detected early.

The foundation particularly wants to reach men in the high risk categories (such as men of African or Caribbean descent), with a family history of the disease and those over the age of 50; however, the foundation’s director of digital marketing, Yaz Maziar, tells strategy that they hope the humour of the campaign will strike a chord with younger populations as well.