In 1981 the ‘Slip! Slop! Slap!’ campaign was launched by SunSmart and went on to become one of Australia’s greatest successes in the fight against skin cancer. Launched as a TV commercial, everyday Australian civilians would become to feel at home with a cheerful seagull in board shorts, t-shirt and hat who danced his way across tv screens singing the ‘Slip! Slop! Slap!’ jingle.
During the time, Australians were experiencing skin cancer at an alarming rate most likely due to the hot Australian climate, our cultural love to be outdoors and lack of education on skin protection. As the dominate cause for melanoma cancer is extended time in the sun, the ‘Slip! Slop! Slap!’ campaign had to induce cultural change as well as educate a wide range of age groups, genders and cultures. ‘Sid the Seagull’ became the character that wedged the ‘Slip! Slop! Slap!’ campaign into Australian culture with his ‘Aussie bloke’ accent and “sizzle like a sausage” slang. By giving this universal jingle an entity, it allows the message to have an origin and therefore allows viewers to connect on a more serious level with the message presented.
The aesthetic of the campaign is another cultural connecting factor in the effectiveness of its widespread education. The rough illustrations and use of pastel colours appeal to a younger audience (the future), while the jingles lyrics and illustrations of working men may appeal to an older audience (educators). The Cancer Council of Victoria and VicHealth have been funding SunSmart since 1988. With the help of their funding, SunSmart has increased the use of sunscreen in everyday activities, educated individuals to prevent sun damage through the correct choice of clothing and has increased the number of individuals seeking medical checks. The campaign to reduce skin cancers has been successful because it was a comprehensive, integrated community awareness campaign. In addition to TV adverts, SunSmart has extended its educational reach by targeting public health messages through social media, schools, workplaces, the fashion industry and the television and movie industry as well as the surf lifesaving community and many others.
A Survey by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare was published in 2017 to examine the incidence rates of melanomas from 1997 to 2014. The ‘Slip! Slop! Slap!’ era (under 40) see clear reductions in melanoma incidence rates, while the 40-60 age bracket are just levelling out, and the over 60 age bracket continuing to climb.
By examining this successful health campaign, we can take and apply effective elements to other campaigns regarding health issues. The ‘Slip! Slop! Slap!’ campaign has proven that education from an early age has a distinct relationship to change and effect within culture, not just over a specific era but over multiple. A psychological standpoint on the effectiveness of the campaign’s reception must be focused on as well. The ‘Slip! Slop! Slap! campaign has worked so efficiently over time because of its universality through sound and sight, but also because of its distinct inclusion of all target markets.
- Australia, P.H.A.o. 2018, Top 10 public health successes over the last 20 years, Canberra.
- SunSmart, Slip! Slop! Slap! Original SunSmart Campaign, viewed 17 November 2019, <https://www.sunsmart.com.au/tools/videos/past-tv-campaigns/slip-slop-slap-original-sunsmart-campaign.html>.
- Victoria, S. 2012, Slip! Slop! Slap! – The Original SunSmart Campaign with Sid the Seagull, Video Recording, Youtube, viewed 17 November 2019, <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tGgn5nwYtj0>.
- UK, D.M. 2014, Slip, slop, slap, success: Skin cancer rates plummet thanks to long-running nationwide sun safety campaign, Melanoma Research Victoria, viewed 17 November 2019, <https://melanomaresearchvic.com.au/slip-slop-slap-success-skin-cancer-rates-plummet-thanks-long-running-nationwide-sun-safety-campaign#>.
- Organisation, W.H. 2003, WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, Electronic book, WHO Press, viewed 17 November 2019, <https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/42811/9241591013.pdf;jsessionid=38110401F949A2CF9676969FB9FC3610?sequence=1>.
- Council, C. 2014, TV still of Cancer Council’s Slip Slop Slap campaign, Australian Broadcasting Network, viewed 17 November 2019, <https://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-04-03/tv-still-of-cancer-council-slip-slop-slap-campaign/5364944>.