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‘Tanning. That’s cooked’: TikTok’s campaign for the Melanoma Institute

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‘Tanning. That’s cooked’: TikTok’s campaign for the Melanoma Institute


TikTok Australia has partnered with the Melanoma Institute Australia (MIA) to inspire Gen Zs to lose the tan this summer.

Melanoma is often referred to as ‘Australia’s national cancer’ as we have the highest rates of this skin cancer in the world, along with New Zealand.

One Australian dies from melanoma every six hours and it’s the most common cancer for Australians aged 20 to 39, according to the MIA.

To raise awareness about melanoma among this younger cohort, the institute has partnered with TikTok for an anti-tanning campaign via TBWA.

Kicking off today, the first day of summer, ‘Tanning. That’s Cooked’ will see popular Aussie TikTok creators call out the behaviour of tanning. Their short-form video content, which TikTok will actively promote to 20- to 39-year-olds, will use humour to highlight not just the dangers of lying in the sun, but the absurdity of the act itself.

“Tanning is actually skin cells in trauma. There is no safe way of sun tanning,” says MIA CEO Matthew Browne. 

“We encourage people to seek shade.”

Choosing the right platform for younger Australians

It’s not quite a nude Bondi beach campaign photographed by Spencer Tunick for skin cancer awareness, as we saw over the weekend. But TikTok was the “right partner” to help deliver the MIA’s message to young Australians, says Browne. 

TBWA’s chief creative officer Evan Roberts agrees.

“We believe this peer-to-peer approach to highlighting the absurdity of tanning is the key to changing those perceptions,” says Roberts.

According to TikTok’s general manager Brett Armstrong, research shows humour works with this young demographic rather than serious health messages.

“The campaign is inviting TikTok creators to use humour to throw shade at tanning in their own authentic way, helping spread the word and change the behaviour this summer,” he says.

Cultural change and damage control

TikTok was apparently motivated to launch this campaign having seen how the app can “drive cultural change with younger demographics” through previous campaigns with the United Nations and Movember. 

To take this further, it is kicking off the TikTok for Good Launchpad in 2023. This initiative will help not-for-profit organisations and their creative partners get corporate social responsibility campaigns off the ground.

But with ‘Tanning. That’s Cooked’, TikTok might be putting out some of its own fires.

Every day, it seems like a dangerous new trend goes viral on TikTok. Sunburn challenges and sunbed spruiking garnered criticism from the MIA in just the last few months.

“A ‘sunburnt tanlines’ stream on TikTok had more than 200 million views, predominantly teens and young adults showing short videos of their red raw burns,” MIA co-director Professor Georgina Long said in an address to the National Press Club in September.

The MIA co-directors put a call out to social media platforms to work with them to change the cultural narratives around sunburn and tanning – and TikTok has answered.

As part of ‘Tanning. That’s Cooked’, TikTok will ban the #sunburn challenge and the #tanning challenge. Both will feature a pop-up link to Melanoma Institute Australia to educate its community.

“Our medical directors put out a plea about the urgent need to stop the glamourisation of tanning, to save young lives, and we are delighted TikTok provided its support, led by our creative partner, TBWA,” says Browne.


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