Melanoma NZ has been running an advertising campaign designed specifically not to be noticed by anyone.
As oxymoronic as this might sound in the attention-grabbing world of marketing, the campaign aims to show how easy it is to miss changes to spots on their skin.
All around New Zealand, major companies have over the last few weeks quietly changed the full stops in their brand advertising to indicate a visual representation of the signs of melanoma.
L&P, Lotto Powerball and No Ugly have all had slowly mutating full stops in the advertising to reflect the way melanoma might evolve on the skin.
The full stops featuring in branding are based on a typeface designed specifically resemble moles that carry the features of melanoma. There are a number of different iterations of the punctuation, all showing slightly different shapes and properties.
The campaign has also been distributed through the media channels of New Zealand Herald owner NZME, on the daily MetService weather report and via the billboard network of the Out of Home Media Association of Aotearoa.
Full stops appearing on ads appearing on certain outdoor digital billboards have also been designed to change in response to the level of UV light exposure on a given day.
Again, this was all done subtly and was likely only noticed by the most observant members of the public.
"Although it was deliberately easy to miss the spots in the advertising, we want that to be a clear message to all New Zealanders that missing new or changing spots on your skin could be deadly," says Melanoma New Zealand chief executive Andrea Newland.
"It's heartbreaking to hear melanoma patients share that they didn't notice a change until it was too late. If melanoma is caught and treated early enough, then a spot doesn't have to become a full stop".
The creative idea is the brainchild of advertising agency TBWA, which did the work pro bono in a show of support for the cause.
"The thing we want to get across is that by nature we're missing it and we need to stop doing that. "It's so easy to miss and dismiss," says TBWA chief executive Catherine Harris.
Harris explains the creative team wanted to use the campaign to intrinsically demonstrate the problematic behaviour in the hope of encouraging New Zealanders to be more vigilant when it comes to checking the spots on their own body.
New Zealand has the highest incidence of melanoma in the world, with more than 4,000 diagnosed and 300 Kiwis dying from the disease every year.
In recent months, Melanoma NZ has posted a number of New Zealand case studies to its YouTube channel.
One particularly poignant story is told by father-of-three Pete Waters who has been told he has only months to live after having melanoma on his neck spread to other parts of his body.
He describes it as starting like a pimple on his neck that didn't go away and then later turned into a mole.
"I kept meaning to do something about, but life's busy and I never got there," an emotional Waters says in the video.
By the time he did check it was already too late, with the cancer having spread to other parts of his body.
"One thing nobody understands is that people seem to think that melanoma or skin cancer stays on your skin," says Waters.
"Well, that's okay if you get it early. But if it goes into the blood, as it has with me, and it's gone everywhere, then there's nothing anyone can do to stop it."
"The golden message is to check your moles every year. Go to a specialist. Do whatever you do, but get them cut out."
Like all charities, Melanoma NZ is dependent on donations from the community to continue doing its work.
For the year ended Septemeber 30, 2020, the organisation raised $380,000, up from $198,000 a year before but down on the $1 million recorded in 2018.
The latest campaign also has a fundraising element attached to it, which will call on Kiwis to simply send a full stop to a number to immediately donate $3 to help fight melanoma.
How to spot melanoma
Melanoma New Zealand has an A-G guide to help New Zealanders identify potentially dangerous spots on their skin. Here's a rundown of what Melanoma NZ recommends checking:
Asymmetry: One half is different from the other.
Border Irregularity: The edges are poorly defined (e.g. notched, uneven or blurred).
Colour is uneven: Shades of brown, tan and black are present (there may also be white, grey, red, pink or blue).
Different: Looks different from other spots, freckles or moles ( think ugly duckling).
Evolving: Any changes in growth: new, elevated, itchy or painful.
Firm: To the touch.
Growing: Most are larger than 6mm and keep growing.