Obesity increases the risk of at least 13 different cancers, and calculations show that if the development of obesity in Denmark continues at the current rate, up to 48,000 more will get cancer due to obesity alone over the next 30 years. The Danish Cancer Society believes that Danes have the right to know that being overweight increases the risk of cancer, and therefore they are now launching a new campaign developed by Sunrise.

Mikkel Heideby, COO & Senior Partner at Sunrise explains:

We are well aware that it is not cool or nice to talk about obesity and cancer. It’s a topic that is both difficult to hear and talk about, and for many, associated with a broad spectrum of emotions, which makes it easy to hurt someone unintentionally. But it is also a message that we have to talk about because more and more of us are overweight and unfortunately, very few Danes know that being overweight also increases the risk of getting cancer. That’s what we want to make people aware of – even if it’s uncool to hear about it.

For this reason, we called the campaign, in Danish, “Et ufedt budskab”. “Fedt”, meaning cool in Danish and “Ufedt” meaning “uncool” is a deliberate wordplay on “fat” and “not fat” for an issue that is about the danger of cancer from being overweight. (“Budskab” meaning offer or message).

Why is The Danish Cancer Society doing a campaign about obesity? Isn’t it your own responsibility if you are overweight?

We know that being overweight increases the risk of at least 13 different cancers, and our calculations show that if this development continues in Denmark, up to 48,000 more people will get cancer due to being overweight over the next 30 years. We therefore believe that Danes have the right to know that being overweight increases the risk of cancer, so we have now launched a campaign with just that message.

We believe that society plays a major role in the development of obesity. Today, more than half of the Danish population is overweight, meaning we can no longer talk about this as a personal problem or a problem for the individual to deal with alone.

Why did you choose to use a celebrity in the film?

We have spent almost a year developing this campaign and have been through many suggestions, thoughts and ideas. We have also spent a great deal of time analysing and trying to understand why it is so difficult to talk about obesity and cancer. But one thing was very clear.

We needed a brave person who dared to stand up and tell us that, like so many of us, they were not the slimmest person anymore either. A person who could penetrate the broad-ranging target group and show that being overweight creeps in with a few kilos here and there over the years, for all of us, famous or not.

Why did you use Anders W. Berthelsen as a spokesperson for a film about being overweight, when he himself has a few extra kilos than perhaps he should and is actually overweight?

It was very hard to find the perfect person for this role. Not just anyone fits the bill to talk about such a difficult topic.

Our conversations with the target audience taught us that we did not need to hear the message from a stick-thin fitness guru. It was extremely important that it was a person who represents the general population – normal in appearance, though maybe with a few extra kilos than they ought to have. It turned out that it was actually quite difficult to find the right person. Not everyone is brave enough to show themselves in a shirt that’s slightly too tight or bare their belly to tell others that they too find it difficult to keep the weight off. But when Anders W. Berthelsen heard about the idea, he jumped at the chance, and we are really happy about that. Anders had also experienced that he too had gained a few extra kilos over time.

Why do we find it difficult to talk about being overweight?

The history surrounding campaigns about obesity shows that people feel such campaigns go beyond their boundaries, because they touch a lot of emotions. Those of us who weigh a little too much know this all too well and that’s why it hits even harder when others say it to us. It breaks the boundaries of what is acceptable to say to each other, and therefore most of us unfortunately end up saying nothing at all.

Why is the film only on social media?

The film needs to be where Danish people are themselves. And there is no doubt that we as a nation are avid users of social media. We also really want Danes to share the campaign with each other, and that’s still difficult to do with a TV campaign.

In addition, our message is about daring to participate in a conversation about a difficult topic. On social media, we are more likely to share, tag and comment than we are face to face because the social platforms allow us to engage with each other without the same confrontation. We have to start somewhere, and therefore it makes sense that we take our starting point in a medium where the premise of participants to a greater extent ‘allows’ this conversation.