In Praise of Polyp Man

You may remember Phil the Syphilis Sore, the bright-red, mean-looking chancre who stumps for the AIDS Healthcare Foundation. Now he’s got a buddy: the Ad Council’s Polyp Man, star of colon cancer awareness work from Campbell-Ewald.

The print and TV campaign is comical, as the mischievous Polyp Man gets himself in all sorts of trouble. At a recent luncheon held by the Detroit Adcraft Club, Jon Stewart, creative director at the Warren, Mich., shop, explained why humor was the best way to get people interested in a topic that no one really wants to think about.

“Nobody wants more pain in their life,” he said in a speech that had the catchy title “The Lighter Side of Colon Cancer.” “The perceived physical discomfort of tests is off-putting. Names like ‘colonoscopy-sigmoidoscopy’ and ‘fecal occult blood testing’ aren’t exactly inviting. Pain is a hard sell. But the truth is, it isn’t really painful. In fact, I brought a sigmoidoscope with me today, and I can prove it. I just need a volunteer.” (There were no takers.)

Stewart also offered a humorous opinion on why his Midwest agency might have been selected for the colon cancer assignment. “There are a lot of plum assignments for every cause, from literacy to freedom,” he said. “Most of them go to New York agencies and other select agencies across the country. But we were in Detroit. We didn’t get literacy or freedom. We got the ass campaign.”