Public Health England has teamed up with Treatwell, the marketplace for booking hair and beauty treatments, to launch a campaign that will use the surge in demand for intimate waxing to open up conversations about cervical screening.
"Life saving wax", created by Proud Robinson & Partners, will involve more than 500 salons recruited by Treatwell. Beauty therapists at the salons will start conversations with women attending waxing treatments about cervical screening, encouraging them to accept their invitation to be screened when invited or, if they’ve missed previous invites, to book an appointment with their GP.
The campaign is being run in collaboration with Freuds and is supported by media medic Dr Zoe Williams and influencers including Cara De La Hoyde. It was created by an entirely female team from Treatwell, Public Health England and the agencies.
It follows the launch of "Cervical screening saves lives", the first-ever national campaign for the procedure, take-up of which is at a 20-year low.
Screening rates are particularly low among women aged 25 to 34 (those under 25 are not routinely invited to have a screening). In contrast, the demand for bikini waxes is soaring among this age group.
Research from Treatwell found that nine in 10 women aged 25-34 maintained their public hair in some way, while 28% – amounting to 1.2 million women – go to beauty salons to do so. Treatwell said it had seen booking for intimate waxing increase 84% from 2017 to 2018.
Salons taking part in the scheme will place information about cervical screening throughout their premises, while beauty therapists will start conversations with customers to highlight that screening can stop cancer before it begins by identifying harmful cells before they become cancerous.
Treatwell and PHE are also creating social media ads and a dedicated digital hub on the brand’s website.
Susan Judge, group head of communications at Treatwell, said: "When we heard that women feel embarrassed about attending screening, or that they don’t know enough about what cervical screening is for, it really shocked us.
"Women’s health means a lot to us and so we wanted to use our position as a business engaging with thousands of women in the UK every day to speak to women directly in environments in which they are more likely to engage. By talking more about this important topic, we can remove the stigma and embarrassment around screening and can ultimately save lives."