Our Work

Case Study: #Backie

Our Work

Case Study: #Backie


Skin cancer is on the rise in Sweden: Nearly 500 people die from the disease every year. Yet it is treatable if discovered in time. Euromelanoma runs public awareness campaigns to encourage people to check their bodies and get examined if they see any signs of skin cancer. It asked Burson-Marsteller to cut through public health message fatigue and engage Swedes via social media to increase their awareness of the importance of checking for early signs of skin cancer and get them to register for 5,000 free skin health checks with doctors.


Playing on the ‘selfie’ phenomenon, Burson-Marsteller came up with the brilliantly simple idea of the #Backie campaign: Encouraging people to post and share pictures of their naked backs – the most difficult area of the body to check for signs of skin cancer.

#Backie was grounded in a powerful message, with the added bonus of being visual, original, emotional and extremely shareable: “Check yourself, do a #Backie."

The team created a website, backie.se to inform and prompt participation, with advice on preventing skin cancer and a gallery of #Backies posted on a variety of social media sites, including Instagram.

Young people responded quickly and were then asked to take photos of their fathers' backs (older men are the most difficult to reach with cancer messages).

Burson-Marsteller built a ring of ambassadors to promote the campaign through taking their own #Backies, including celebrities, sports stars and politicians. The team also talked to journalists in traditional and online media about the campaign.


The #Backie campaign had a huge impact, reaching 3 million people through traditional media and social media. Swedish celebrities, politicians, TV presenters, top football teams and health bodies took part. Ordinary Swedes embraced the campaign, posting their own #backies, as well as retweeting, liking and sharing. Burson-Marsteller’s creative campaign made more Swedes care, share and act on skin cancer: As a result, all 5,000 free check-up appointments were filled.