By: Katie LaPlaunt, Ava Chebruch, and Erta Fonda
As we are edging closer to the end of our sophomore year at William Tennent High School, we wanted to take the opportunity to reflect on our work with Fox Chase Cancer Center. At the beginning of this year as part of our Student Design Lab class, Fox Chase challenged us to create a marketing campaign to spread awareness about skin cancer prevention or early detection. In the beginning, all three of us were working in different groups that proceeded to change several times throughout the year. We felt completely overwhelmed – none of us had ever taken part in this type of intense school project; we didn’t know what to expect or what our final outcome would be.
After going through many surveys, interviews, and research sessions, we came to the conclusion that the main problem was people’s disregard for the dangers of skin cancer. In other words, people do not care about skin cancer, and therefore are not taking the proper precautions to protect their skin from harmful UV rays. However, attempting to create a marketing campaign geared toward reforming people’s priorities was nearly impossible, since we would be unable to change what people care about versus what they do not care about. To make this problem more manageable, we first had to narrow down our target audience. We noticed that, as teenagers, there was an overwhelming lack of knowledge and disregard for the dangers of skin cancer. These observations were later confirmed by surveys and interviews. Because of this, we decided to target teenagers in general because we wanted to make an impact on our own age group. However, we began to become extremely overwhelmed with trying to reach all teenagers. To narrow our audience further, we asked ourselves: what teens are at the highest risk for skin cancer? We suddenly had that “Ah-Ha!” moment that all researchers look for during their projects; we realized that the teenagers spending the most time outside and in direct contact with the sun were athletes. Since all three of us were teenage athletes and had firsthand experiences with our teammates’ lack of concern for skin cancer, we determined teenage athletes would be the perfect target audience for our project.
We then had to dictate how we were going to reach our intended audience. As teenage athletes ourselves, we recalled from personal experiences that at tournaments, many companies and vendors made themselves prevalent through tents. During game breaks (lasting around 1-3 hours) athletes have lots of time to explore the tournament venue, including business tents. Our first thought was to educate our audience through a similar tent at similar events like a tournament. But we quickly realized that despite becoming subtly educated on skin cancer throughout our research, we unanimously came to the conclusion that we would not begin to take extended efforts to protect our skin. Because of this, we knew that education about skin cancer would not be successful. We began to approach our idea in a different light – what might make teenagers want to approach and interact with the content we were promoting?
After much discussion, reviewing survey results, and continuous brainstorming, we thought that adding a fun element to promote skin cancer awareness itself may make people unknowingly take the effort to protect their skin. We came up with the SprayTheRays Challenge: an interactive game where two teams of two will compete to cover one teammate in sunscreen as fast as possible. Teen athletes would be especially attracted to our tent due to its element of competition. Since teen athletes commonly thrive on competition, The SprayTheRays Challenge would be even more successful in the midst of a sporting event, where competitive elements are already elevated due to the environment. By first luring them in with a competitive, enjoyable game, we would be able to increase teen athletes’ awareness of skin cancer while they approach our tent. It was genius!
After we pitched our idea to Fox Chase, we received positive feedback and felt our hard work has paid off!