Mike Rowe is a veteran TV host, voice over artist and pitchman for the likes of Ford, Novartis and other brands. But perhaps nothing prepared him for his current role as a robed patient getting a prostate exam on camera.
Ad agency Erich & Kallman created a two-plus-minute public service announcement in which the TV personality gets an actual prostate exam from his rubber-gloved real doctor on camera.
The agency came up with the idea and contacted the spot’s director, Andrew Laurich, who is a friend of Rowe’s, who was willing and eager to participate because his good friend had recently undergone treatment for prostate cancer.
The spot opens with Rowe lying on his side on an examining table in his doctor’s office wearing a white robe and facing the camera. As Rowe explains that statistics show that one in nine men suffer from prostate cancer, but that early detection results in a five-year, 100% cure rate, his doctor enters the room and proceeds to put on a pair of rubber gloves.
That’s when Rowe describes the actual exam as the doctor performs it before concluding that Rowe’s prostate is healthy. The video was shot in the offices of Rowe’s physician, Dr. Jordan Shlain, in Menlo Park, California. In the corner of the video there is a button that says “Click here for reverse angle.” At the end, after the weirdly real video is just about over, Rowe notes the button and asks if, of those people that tried to click unsuccessfully on the button, they “really wanted to see that?”
Lest anyone think that the exam didn’t actually happen, the last few moments of the video show a few uncomfortable candid moments that assure, yes it did.
“Like most men, my first prostate exam came a few weeks after a dear friend was diagnosed,” Rowe said. “His name was Jeff Wilson. Happily, it still is. Jeff is alive and well today because a routine exam revealed an anomaly when he was just 47 years old. It was cancer. They didn’t catch it early, but they caught it in time. Jeff had his prostate removed, and lived to tell the tale.
“Jeff Wilson is the reason I agreed to get my prostate examined on camera. I wanted men to see – for real – just how fast and simple the process is, and just how critically important early detection can be. But men don’t need a lecture, and the world doesn’t need another PSA filled with sad faces and cello music because lectures, sad faces, and cello music don’t work. What works is authenticity, and this is quite possibly the most authentic thing I’ve ever filmed. With a little help from my actual doctor, his actual finger, and my actual rectum, I’m hopeful we can save some actual lives.”
The spot will run on social media beginning October 10. E&K worked with Zero – The End of Prostate Cancer, a non-profit organization dedicated to prostate cancer education, testing, patient support, research and advocacy, on the spot. The unique PSA will live on YouTube and will be shared by Zero as well as by Rowe, who has millions of social media followers. No media buy is scheduled.