Why the “Go With Your Own Glow” Campaign is Flawed and Ideas to Fix It – Li-Hui Ueng
Why healthy glows are important
In the United States being tan is a sign of health and beauty. One way to achieve a healthy and beautiful tan is through the use of tanning salons. Tanning salons allow their patrons an inexpensive and fast way to achieve the healthy glow of life and vitality. However, research has linked these salons to increased risk of melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers (1). The culprit is the ultraviolet A (UVA) rays found in tanning beds. These rays contain two to three times higher the amount of UVA versus rays delivered by natural sunlight (1). The UVA rays not only are associated with skin cancers, but also include the risk for: sunburns, pruritis, nausea, dryness of skin, and blistering (1). In the United States, studies have shown the highest prevalence of use of tanning salons are among female adolescents (1). In the Growing Up Today Study (GUTS), conducted by O’Riordan et al (1), among older girls aged 15 – 18, 24.6% reported having used tanning beds to achieve a tan in the previous year. With the well-documented risks for tanning salon use, and the prevalence of female adolescent use, there should be interventions to discourage use of tanning salons.
One program attempts to intervene and deter tanning salon use, and this program is called the “Go With Your Own Glow” campaign (10), sponsored by the Skin Cancer Foundation. The goals of this media campaign include encouraging the population, more specifically, females, to be happy with their natural beauty and skin color, discouraging tanning, and revealing the truth about tanning salons. This campaign includes: print advertisements in women’s magazines, speakers who used tanning salons and developed melanoma, and other options to achieve the healthy glow through use of make-up techniques. There are a few flaws in the “Go With Your Own Glow” campaign, which include assuming the readers of the advertisements make rational decisions, focusing on the wrong audience, and not addressing what healthy is in the context of United States culture. By addressing these issues, the campaign will be more effective in the decrease use of tanning salons.
People do not make rational decisions
The “Go With Your Own Glow” campaign’s first flaw is thinking that people make rational decisions. One advertisement in the campaign equates tanning with a grape changing into a raisin. The advertisement states that as a result of being in the sun, wrinkles, crow’s feet, and burns show up on the skin, and that humans should be smarter than grapes turning into raisins, and therefore not tan. However, humans do not make rational decisions. The health belief model, first created by Hochbaum, Rosenstock, and Kegels, attempts to explain and predict health behaviors. In the model, there are four factors that Hochbaum et al. described that motivate health behaviors. These four factors are: perceived susceptibility, perceived severity, perceived benefits of an action, and perceived barriers to taking that action.
By applying the health behavior model to the “Go With Your Own Glow” campaign, readers should look at the advertisement and think they are susceptible to wrinkles and crow’s feet. Therefore the severities of these effects from tanning outweigh the benefits, and the reader should stop tanning. However, human behavior is not rational. Salazar criticizes the rationality assumption in the model, stating the “focus [is] on rational, intentional behavior and does not take into account the spontaneous activity that characterizes much of human behavior” (2). The readers of the “Go With Your Own Glow” campaign are not all rational, because irrationality is ingrained in human behavior, and as a result will not modify their behavior as described by the health belief model.
Focusing on the wrong audience
The marketers of “Go With Your Own Glow” created a flawed campaign in choosing their target audience. The target audience should not be just females, but more specifically, female teens since this group represents the main customers of tanning salons (1). Each advertisement in the campaign has illustrations of older women, probably women to whom the adolescents cannot relate. Therefore, the advertisements are not focused towards the main audience.
The campaign is also only focused on an individual level. There have been many critiques against the theories of predicting behavior on the individual level. The critiques include not taking into account external forces such as social and cultural pressures. By only targeting a single individual, the campaign does not account for humans wanting to fit in. David Marks wrote that most interventions are erroneously created to change individual behaviors (11) and the “Go With Your Own Glow” campaign falls into this category. Instead of focusing on the individual level, Marks proposes that interventions should be based on group level interventions to be more effective (11). One reason individual level interventions are inferior to group level interventions is because they do not take into include the herd mentality that is part of human behavior. Herd mentality occurs when humans want to mimic the actions of others (15).
Herd mentality can be translated into peer pressure in the female adolescent population. Female adolescents typically want to conform to a standard and as a result are more susceptible to peer pressure (17). The campaign disregards an integral part of adolescent life by not addressing peer pressure. Teenagers especially want to conform to the standard and not be left out, and if this is being tan, they will take action to fit into this standard.
The print advertisements were mainly in magazines that older females would read, including: Food & Wine, Shape, and Time magazine. These magazines are not widely read by adolescents and therefore the campaign is missing the main target audience by not running the advertisements in the correct magazines. “Brands capitalize on consumer self-interest by targeting the wants and needs of the target audience” (7). Branding requires that the target audience believe that the product being sold (natural and healthy skin), is a better solution than the unhealthy behavior (tanning). The “Go With Your Own Glow” campaign cannot start to brand natural healthy skin because they do not target the correct audience, which is essential to a successful marketing campaign.
Being tan = health and beauty?
The “Go With Your Own Glow” does not address a greater concern of being tan and the social status. In the United States having a tan is equated with being healthy, having a higher social status, and wealth. This idea is made evident by many studies showing people equate having a tan as being healthy. Bagdasarov et al. (3) conducted a study in which they found a strong correlation between tanning image beliefs and tanning behavior among adolescents. The research showed adolescents “with greater beliefs that tanned images are attractive will be more likely to use and have greater intentions to use tanning beds” (3). When someone turns on the television or opens a magazine, the celebrities are glamorous, tan, and look happy and healthy. Female adolescents look to these celebrities as role models and want to emulate the same characteristics as the celebrities. The adolescents will wear the same clothing, use the same products, and also want to be tan, using the celebrity as a standard (8). The campaign does not address the standard of being tan and therefore is not fully effective.
By the campaign not addressing socio-cultural norms, the campaign cannot be successful. Body image is extremely important in humans, especially adolescent females. In the study performed by Cafri, Thompson, and Jacobsen (12), they searched for the connection between cultural norms and tanning behaviors. The study found if there was a socio-cultural standard to be tan, the participants were more likely to tan to reach the standard. Since the campaign does not address present-day cultural standards, the campaign will not be fully successful in changing tanning salon use.
What do to now
There are many ways in which the “Go With Your Own Glow” campaign can be improved. The campaign first needs to address the lack of education among the target population, adolescent females. There should be education for the target population regarding the dangers and side effects of tanning, and that this population is susceptible to these effects, not just older people. Second, the campaign needs to rework who the target audience, instead of focusing on females, they campaign should further focus on female adolescents since the prevalence of tanning salon use is so high among this population. And lastly, the campaign should find relatable spokespeople to relay their message of natural beautiful skin to the female adolescents.
Educate the users of tanning salons
One fix to the campaign is to inform female adolescents of the actual risks of tanning and that they are susceptible. Research has shown that the perceived susceptibility of complications from tanning is low within the population (2). In a 1988 survey, only 33% of adolescents were aware of the correlation between tanning and skin cancer. By a decrease in perceived susceptibility (I am not going to get skin cancer by tanning), the perceived severity also decreases. Consequently, the perceived benefits of tanning outweigh the perceived potential for complications, and behavior will not change because the female adolescents do not think they are at risk. The campaign should include information about the risks, both in the short and long-term.
The article written by Mermelstein and Riesenberg suggests that the majority of adolescents do not even think about sun exposure precautions (4). Sun exposure precautions include wearing sunscreen, staying in the shade, wearing hats and avoiding sunburns. The Skin Cancer Foundation should increase their focus on teens, and make this population aware that wrinkles can occur at any age, and by tanning, the teens only increase the risk for short-term effects. By taking sun exposure precautions, the teens will decrease the effects of sun exposure. In this case having wrinkles earlier in life. Adolescents, when choosing their behaviors, do not typically think about the future consequences. An effective program should focus on short-term rather than long-term consequences since youths do not think far into the future (6). They do not think about wrinkles, crow’s feet, and blotches, because adolescents believe these characteristics are only associated with older adults. The program should increase education regarding the harmful effects of tanning salons and promote safe tanning practices, such as sunless tanning lotion and wearing sunscreen (9).
Find the right target audience
By doing formative research, the “Go With Your Own Glow” campaign can be more effective. Formative research is a key factor in the efficacy of campaign in changing health behavior. The purpose of this research is to find the correct target population and understand the “needs, desires, and values” (16) of this population and create an effective campaign to change their health behaviors.
The goal of the campaign should be to target teens and stop the behavior before it starts or stop the teens from future tanning. The concept of formative research should be applied by finding what drives adolescent female behaviors and adjusting the advertisements to those drivers. The campaign can take some examples from the “truth” campaign. In the “truth” campaign, the marketers try and successfully decrease the prevalence of teen smoking in the United States. The marketers achieved a successful youth campaign through many techniques, including research and focus groups (5). The marketers/researchers found that the youth population did not want to be told what behavior decisions to do, and also, perhaps more importantly, the youths did not want to be manipulated. These techniques should be used in the “Go With Your Own Glow” campaign to be more effective.
In the “truth” campaign, the marketers were able to re-brand smoking, instead of being considered cool for smoking, they re-branded smoking as to being manipulated by the big tobacco companies. As a result, there was a documented decrease of prevalence in smoking among youths in Florida because youths did not want to be manipulated (5). The “Go With Your Own Glow” campaign should focus on re-branding natural skin. The advertisers can re-frame natural skin from pale and unhealthy to beautiful, healthy, wrinkle-free, and long lasting. Also, the advertisers should incorporate the concept that it is main stream media that creates the standard of tan being healthy, and the youths are being manipulated into thinking healthy is tan. And if there are the same results as with the “truth” campaign, there should be a decrease in tanning among female adolescents.
Also, the campaign should not focus on an individual level, but on a group level. By focusing on a group level, the advertisement departs from the individual behavior models, and now addresses tanning on a community level which is proven to be more effective (13). The advantage of changing a behavior on the community level is that the information can be diffused to a larger population in a shorter amount of time. The “Go With Your Own Glow” campaign can focus their advertisements on television commercials between shows that teens watch. By having these advertisements between the shows the teens watch, the campaign can reach a large amount of their target population at one time.
As mentioned earlier, the campaign advertisements are mainly found in magazines that female adolescents do not read. To improve the campaign, the advertisements should be run in teen magazines. Some examples of teen magazines include Seventeen, Teen Vogue, and CosmoGirl. By having the advertisements in these magazines, the campaign reaches the target population more effectively and quickly.
Find a relatable spokesperson
The advertisers of the “Go With Your Own Glow” campaign also need spokespeople to which the target, female adolescents, can relate. The campaign currently uses former beauty pageant contestants as spokespeople, and most teen girls can neither identify nor relate to these beauty queens. Instead, they should find relevant spokespeople that are in the public eye. For instance, this past year, the show Jersey Shore on MTV became a huge hit. The premise of this reality show is following a group of young Italian-Americans and their summer on the New Jersey Shore. One of the mottos on the Jersey Shore was gym, tanning, and laundry (GTL). All of the stars of the show were extremely tan, and they achieved the tan through tanning salons. The “Go With Your Own Glow” campaign should recruit these reality television stars and inform them of the reality of what tanning does, and have them has spokespeople against tanning since a lot of youths, the at-risk population, watched Jersey Shore. Using relatable people rather than celebrities is more effective in changing youth behaviors (6, 14). In the article written by Paglia and Room, the writers state that youth can be skeptical of celebrities and their endorsements, so therefore by having “real” people, they can relate better.
With the “Go With Your Own Glow” campaign, the writers assume that the reader will see the complications of tanning, their increased susceptibility and the severity of not having a wrinkle-free, flawless face, and be motivated to stop tanning since the benefits outweigh the barriers. In reality, the target population is female adolescents, and this campaign does not apply to this population. By redesigning the campaign to address and educate youths, re-branding what a healthy glow is (from tan to natural skin color), and recruiting relatable spokespeople, the campaign can be more successful in changing tanning salon use habits.
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