Q & A with MUG Founder Trevor Kelham
Q: What's involved in MUG's Check Your Balls campaign?
A: There are two main pillars to the campaign, an educational video and a public awareness campaign. Guernsey's Sexual Health and Relationship Education team had been using a very out of date video about testicular cancer in their lessons with year 11 boys and they asked us if the charity could help in making a new video. We approached some well-known local sportspeople and also ITV's Gary Burgess and we think the final film will really appeal to its audience.
The awareness campaign also uses local men, from a variety of sports and age groups. The advertising urges men to 'check your balls' and will appear in local print media, on a bus, on various poster sites and in sports clubs and in bars around the island. It's a powerful campaign that we know will get people talking!
Q: What's the strategy behind the campaign?
A: Both the video and the awareness campaign are aimed at breaking down men's reluctance to talk about health issues and really drive home the health message about testicular and all men's cancers. We want to spark conversations and make men realise it's ok to talk about these things, and of course encourage men to make self-examination part of their routine.
Q: What is the educational video?
A: This is a 10-minute video that will be used by the SHARE team as part of their sexual health lessons with secondary school boys. It gives boys easy to understand information about testicular cancer and self-examination. It was created for use in lessons and in an educational setting but it can be seen on MUG's website and on our YouTube and Facebook pages.
Q: Who appears in the video?
A: We've had amazing support to help us make the film. Gary Burgess, from ITV Channel Television presents the video. He underwent treatment for testicular cancer and shares his story in the film. Luke Jones, Ross Kneller, Ben Ferbrache, Ryan-Zico Black and Jason Winch also appear. The message is serious but we hope it's delivered in a good-humoured way that young men will relate to.
Q: Sounds like you had a lot of help making the video?
A: Absolutely and we are constantly amazed at how islanders are willing to give to the charity. The team from SHARE has been pivotal in making the film, along with Spike Productions who filmed and edited it. Simon Boucher-Harris from Renegade Photography shot the pictures of the sportsmen in the campaign and The Partnership Group has coordinated the design, production and media placement. Owen Cole of the MSG gives a lot of his specialist expertise to the charity and ensures our messages are correct. The whole MUG team has worked hard to make this happen. The sportsmen involved are:
Q: Tell us more about the advertising campaign.
A: Well, we photographed a number of top Guernsey sportsmen, people like Luke Jones and Jason Winch. They're in the buff; all using a ball to cover their manhood and the strapline is 'check your balls'. The key message is about testicular cancer, but it's also about getting any health niggles checked out. The sportsmen are in the peak of health and fitness, they understand the importance of looking after yourself and are great ambassadors for the charity and roll models for the island's young men.
Q: What's the main message?
A: Check your balls! We want to encourage men to make self-examination a regular part of their routine.
Q: With near naked men in the advertising it's bound to upset a few people, what would you say to your critics?
A: The campaign is not meant to upset anyone and has been created to drive home an important message in a powerful way. The campaign's objective is to get people talking about men's health. We appreciate they may not appeal to everyone but the campaign is aimed at a younger audience who we feel will be comfortable with the images.
We know that many people have responded very positively towards the pictures and have even more respect for the courage the guys like Luke, Martin and Zico have shown in helping MUG to spread the 'get checked' message.