Humorous Sun Safety Campaign Aims to 'Help a Dane' Abroad

Liam Davenport

February 16, 2017

What happens if your local population is following sun safety advice when they are at home, but forget all about it when they on vacation in far sunnier climes? Simple: Ask the world for help.

That was the message of an innovative and surreally humorous sun safety campaign, in which a choir of sunburned Danes beg the world to help them to remember to take simple sun safety advice in their favored holiday destinations.

The Help a Dane campaign was created by the Danish Cancer Society in collaboration with the nonprofit Danish foundation TrygFonden in response to data showing that Denmark has the fifth highest incidence of melanoma, behind only Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland, and the Netherlands.

Source: Courtesy of the Danish Cancer Society

Peter Dalum, PhD, executive project manager in the Danish Sun Safety Campaign, told Medscape Medical News that the reason for the campaign was that "when we go abroad, we haven't changed our behavior in the sun as much as we have in Denmark, where we've changed quite a bit how we protect our children."

Noting that the problem is similar across the Nordic countries, he continued: "We need, somehow, to learn from the locals how they protect themselves in the sun."

Denmark has few hours of sun annually and an ultraviolet (UV) index that is never greater than 7. However, the UV index can reach 12 to 15 at vacation destinations close to the equator, resulting in many of the thousands of Danish tourists who travel to such locations returning home with a sunburn.

Following 10 years of sun safety campaigns in Denmark, it was decided to focus on the places where Danish people most commonly go for vacations. Thailand, Spain, Greece, France, and Italy were the countries chosen.

In a short video, TV presenter Mikael Bertelsen appeals to the people of each of those countries, in their own language, to help the Danes to remember that their skin will burn easily and that they need to follow simple practices, such as going into the shade often, wearing a hat, and using strong sunscreen.

Volunteers can sign up on the website to become Help a Dane ambassadors to offer tips and ensure that Danes do not get sunburned when they are on vacation.

So far, the campaign has achieved widespread exposure and comment in each of the chosen countries, as well as further afield, including in Egypt, Vietnam, and Slovenia, and the website has been inundated with advice from locals.

Dr Dalum explained that the campaign arose out of the realization that what needs to be communicated about sun safety differs markedly depending on the location.

The campaign was launched on February 3 and is due to run for a few more weeks. Dr Dalum and colleagues will then collate the all advice they have received from the almost 6000 people who have signed up to the campaign and have given tips on sun protection in their area.

"Then we will make a step two this summer, when we execute another campaign looking at the Danes in Denmark, saying: 'Well, we asked the world for help, and their response was tremendous, and this is the help we got. See how you can protect yourself in different countries,' " Dr Dalum explained.

This second campaign, which will be conducted on a national level, will then be evaluated to see whether it has changed the behavior of Danes when they go abroad.

The Help a Dane campaign is a collaboration between the Danish Cancer Society and TrygFonden.

Help a Dane. The Danish Sun Safety Campaign.

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