When it comes to melanoma, do ads favor women?


Adfreak passes along the study that shows almost all ads for sunscreen appear in women's mags & media. That's true, and the study is also right that women know more about sun protection than men (for instance, that the jumbo 108-oz. tube of generic brand isn't necessarily a bargain, because you can't count on it to be effective after the first season, so about 96 ounces go to waste). They know this because those ads (and articles) appear in women's magazines. I'll buy that.

What I'm not buying is that this indicates that men are oblivious and stupid and not worth the waste of ad dollars.

FACT: It's really just that women are often the ones who buy sunscreen, not just for themselves but for their men, too. Advertising is aimed at the primary buyer. When it comes to sunscreen, that's women.

But men certainly do understand the need for it (including my husband, a former ocean lifeguard and lifelong outdoor athlete).

So is the problem that men are not seeing enough sunscreen ads? Advertising researchers call this an "untapped" market. Could be. In approaching an "untapped" market, however, let's all remember that men aren't just one gelatinous lump, all receptive to the same message. Their motivators run the gamut of health, vanity, desire to be the family protector, or desire to continue on a 12-day backcountry excursion without wimping out because of sunburn.

So to the presumption, do men just not "get" it? No, I think any man who's ever had a lobster burn knows enough to wear sunscreen. And any father whose child has ever been sunburned becomes as much of a nag as mom (maybe more, because he'll also get crap from the mom if the sunburn occurred on his watch).

It's worth noting for the sake of message development, that for women, the point of sunscreen is (mostly) to avoid the effects of aging. For men, the point of sunscreen is to avoid the painful burn. And for both, it's clear that whatever your underlying motivation, you need to do this to ward off skin cancers.