News & Views

Let’s go commando!

by Contagious I/O

This story originally appeared on Contagious I/O, a customisable research platform featuring the world’s most innovative, creative and effective campaigns and ideas


The Male Cancer Awareness Campaign (MCAC) is asking British men to ditch their underwear on 7 March, and don a distinctive blue sticker instead. Going Commando, by London-based agency Lucky Generals, aims to tackle the embarrassment that men feel about certain more ‘intimate’ cancers, such as testicular, prostate and bowel cancer.

To promote the cause, MCAC has enlisted the support of UK celebrities, such as politician John Prescott, musicians Rizzle Kicks and Ricky Wilson, and even the famous plasticine character, Morph. The TV spot, above, shows the celebrities pledging to lose their pants and wear the sticker on Going Commando day.

To show its support, Irish gambling brand Paddy Power has agreed to distribute 100,000 stickers from 265 stores throughout the country. Men can find their nearest store here, and then pop in to pick up a blue badge any time before 7 March.

Patrick Cox, CEO of MCAC said: ‘Early detection and early treatment are the two most important punches that can be thrown in the fight against male cancer. This campaign is designed to spark conversation, making men more aware of their bodies and ultimately save lives.’

Contagious Insight

By tackling a sensitive issue in a bold, loud and very public way, and by creating a low barrier to entry, MCAC’s stunt should achieve widespread awareness amongst the British public.

The insight behind the idea is that men are literally dying from embarrassment: uncomfortable with going to the doctor to have a check-up, many are delaying diagnosis until it’s too late. Going Commando challenges this perception by encouraging people to support the cause in a loud and proud manner. By ditching their undies, and donning a blue sticker, British men are helping to break down this existing stigma.

Paddy Power’s involvement is also important. On a basic level, it’s simply employing its retail network to help spread a valuable message. But this association also follows on from the brand’s Right Behind Gay Footballers initiative (RBGF), which asked professional footballers in England to wear a pair of rainbow laces in support of gay rights in the sport. Using a similar mechanic, the RBGF campaign won support from 54 professional clubs and received 320 million impressions on Twitter.

Both RBGF and Going Commando are part of what Andy Nairn, founding partner of Lucky Generals, calls the brand’s ‘mission with mischief’ strategy. Funny, risqué stunts grab attention and cause headlines, while charity associations give these a deeper sense of purpose.

The upcoming issue of Contagious magazine contains an in-depth case-study on Paddy Power, and reveals the strategy behind both RBGF and Going Commando. The feature also takes a behind-the-scenes look at the rigorous editorial set-up and unique culture that makes this mischievous, irreverent brand so successful.