Blue September calls on Kiwis to give prostate cancer the finger

An average of 3,000 Kiwi men are annually diagnosed with prostate cancer every year, and 600 of cases last year resulted in death—a mortality rate that puts prostate cancer on par with breast cancer in New Zealand.

As is often the case with cancer, the sufferer’s chances of recovery are drastically increased by early detection of the disease. However, when it comes to prostate cancer, many men tend to have inhibitions about having the rectal examination necessary to check for prostate abnormalities. 

For this reason, not-for-profit organisation Blue September has released a confronting message for its 2015 campaign that encourages men to “man up and give prostate cancer the finger”.

This tagline has been used previously by several international cancer societies, and Media Design School course leader Kate Humphries also sent stopPress a message pointing out that the idea was very similar to piece of student work released at last year’s student showcase.  

“‘The finger graphic has been used before and the combination of the timing, the line, the man-up strategy and the same type-face could, I suppose, just be coincidence,” said Humphries. “Most agencies are normally good – if they use anything they’ve seen in a student book they’ll make sure the students’ names are included in any credits. It’s when they don’t get credited that I feel bad for the students because they then have to take the idea out of their book because its officially now ‘been done’,  which has unfortunately happened a few times in the past.”

Actor Mark Hadlow, who recently appeared as Dori in the Hobbit trilogy, has stepped forward to front the campaign, and his recognisable visage is now visible across a TV commercials, print media and bus-back advertising (and he also features in radio ads).   

City councils around the country are also lending their support by turning various landmarks blue in honour of the cause. 

In addition, the campaign has also attracted the support of Kiwi celebrities Monty Betham, Natasha Fitzsimons, Stephen McIvor and Slade McFarland, who each appear in short video clips talking about the disease.  

The Prostate Cancer Foundation of NZ is pushing the message that all men over the age of 40 should have regular prostate checks if their family has a history of prostate cancer, and the organisation also recommends annual prostate checks for those between 50 and 70. 

StopPress asked the Blue September media team who was behind the campaign, but we are yet to receive a response.*

*Update: MWC Media started Blue September in New Zealand in 2008, before expanding it into Australia a year later. The agency has been running the annual campaign on both sides of the ditch ever since. 

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