Free Killer Tan Campaign

Mollie’s Fund Fighting the Deadly Effects of Tanning Beds
- Fake tanning salon shows patrons grim reality of indoor tanning -

NEW YORK, February 3, 2015 – In the middle of winter, many people prepare for warm destination vacations or seek respite from the cold by visiting their local tanning salons, unknowingly exposing themselves to one of the most deadly forms of skin cancer, melanoma. To help educate and avoid the tragic loss of life caused by tanning bed usage, the melanoma awareness organization Mollie’s Fund and Area 23, an FCB Health company, have launched the “Free Killer Tan” campaign.

The premise behind the initiative was simple: Set up a fake tanning salon in midtown Manhattan and invite patrons in for a free tan. However, once people arrived, they were confronted with a dramatization of the deadly effects of tanning. A public service announcement video documenting the creation of the fake tanning salon event shows the emotional confrontations with unsuspecting tanners. It can be viewed on the campaign’s microsite,

Microsite visitors are encouraged to invite friends, family and colleagues to experience the microsite and PSA under the guise of a “Free Killer Tan” e-certificate, tapping into the power of constructive peer pressure to force tanners to think twice before using a tanning bed.

“We are always trying to find new and impactful ways of making people aware of the dangers of indoor tanning. Tanning beds cause at least 400,000 cases of skin cancer in the United States annually, including 6,000 cases of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer,” Jack Biggane, co-founder of Mollie’s Fund said. “Despite this grim reality, more than 30 million people use tanning beds each year, 2.3 million of which are teens.”

Dr. Elizabeth K. Hale, Clinical Associate Professor of Dermatology at NYU Langone Medical Center, Vice President of the Skin Cancer Foundation, and consulting physician on the project, states that a tan is the body’s response to injury from UV rays, and tanning causes dangerous mutations which make the skin susceptible to the development of cancer. “Sometimes it takes shock tactics like this to show people that just one tanning session can increase your chance of getting melanoma by 20%.”

Tim Hawkey, managing director of Area 23, said the campaign needed to go above and beyond the traditional ways of educating the public about the dangers of tanning. “We had to get under people’s skin to really change their behavior and make sure they never use a tanning bed again,” said Hawkey. “If visitors take away anything from this campaign it is that tanning beds kill and they’re not worth the risk.”

This project was made possible by a grant from The Miracle Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives of those diagnosed with cancer and to finding a cure for this disease.

About Mollie’s Fund
The Mollie Biggane Melanoma Foundation (501c) was created in 2000 in her memory after her death at the age of twenty. The mission of Mollie’s Fund is to increase awareness for melanoma prevention, provide information and services on skin cancer detection, and support melanoma patients through education on the latest treatments. By partnering with leading melanoma institutions, their educational symposiums have supported melanoma patients and their families with current information regarding new therapies and drug trials. As a leader in the war against skin cancer and melanoma, the foundation has created and produced educational materials for middle, high school, and college students. The lesson plans created by health teachers of the NY State Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance are aligned with National Health Educational Guidelines. These resources, including a short film and skills-based written materials, have been distributed to health teachers and school nurses throughout the United States and Canada.

Mollie’s Fund has produced public service announcements for radio, television, national publications, billboards, trains, and taxis in NYC and other major cities, as well as across the NYC subway system. Apple and Android users can download Mollie's Fund interactive guide, which provides users facts about the evolution of skin cancer and melanoma. This free app illustrates a self-exam, exhibits mole changes, and reinforces behaviors to protect against skin cancer. Mollie’s Fund has also initiated skin cancer and melanoma education programs for hospital nurses and received the honor of being selected the Presidential Charity of the NY State Society of Physician Assistants due to their continued work with the PA community. Mollie’s Fund strongly supports the US Surgeon General’s 2014 Call to Action to Prevent Skin Cancer. Please visit for more information.

About Area 23
Area 23 is a full-service, healthcare communications agency offering a full range of multichannel marketing expertise including HCP, DTC, and direct-to-patient communications; strategic planning; scientific services; digital services ranging from strategy to development, media planning and buying, and analytics. The agency, led by managing directors Tim Hawkey and Renée Mellas, has undergone significant growth in the last 3 years, nearly tripling in size under their leadership. Their campaigns have been recognized with top honors from The Global Awards, The Manny Awards, and the Rx Club, and they have been named 2014 Mid-Sized Agency of the Year by Medical Marketing and Media. Its 175 entrepreneurial, passionate, curious and fun employees all share one goal: to deliver the best possible thinking and the best possible product to every brand on their growing client roster. Area 23 leadership dedicates unbillable time each month for the ideation of business building ideas for each and every one of its clients. This “what if” initiative was originally intended to drive innovation. One year later, it has become something that truly defines the culture of the agency.

Go to to view the video of the campaign.