Campaign: Outthink Melanoma

Client: IBM

Agency: Ogilvy Australia


Although melanoma is the deadliest skin cancer, it can be treated if detected early. IBM’s Artificial Intelligence system, Watson is learning, by analysing structured and unstructured data, including millions of medical images and notes, to help clinicians identify melanoma in its earliest stages.

But the more data Watson has, the more easy and accurate melanoma detection can become so the campaign asks millions of Australians to use Watson to check for Melanomas.


To demystify Watson, IBM’s cutting-edge AI system, by showing its application to solve business problems and provide the audience with a true understanding of Watson’s real world capabilities.  Watson can understand natural language, self-learn, reason, and interact - processing vast amounts of data, in more detail than any human could get through in a lifetime. A practical and meaningful demonstration of Watson’s capabilities was needed.

Creative solution

Ogilvy and IBM invented a brand new data collection method - the Watson Smart Mirror. Simply by standing in front of the mirror, everyday Australians spoke to Watson as he analysed their age, gender and sunscreen coverage. Where their risk profile warranted, they were referred to a skin specialist in the booth right next door. That specialist would then take hi-resolution images of their moles for analysis by a specialist dermatologist if warranted. But clearly, not everyone could get to Bondi to meet Watson in person. So, to provide every Australian with the chance to participate, a nationwide call to ‘tell your melanoma story’ was launched on social media. By tagging your story with #outthinkmelanoma, Watson could read and incorporate a users experiences into his own learning.

The insight “Melanoma doesn’t discriminate’ drove the campaign around engagement. Executions featured a range of Australian faces and voices including  Australian celebrities telling their survival stories via social media: Mack Horton, Olympic Gold Medal Swimmer; Deborah Hutton, Media personality; 'Deano', 'Harries' and 'Kerrbox',  Lifeguards from 'Bondi Rescue'. Pre-roll video, display and print advertising featuring eight everyday Australians telling their melanoma stories was also used. Radio spots featuring three melanoma stories and the voice of Watson asking listeners to join in, ran in the week before the event with extra campaign participation driven by live reads. Bondi Surf Bathers' Lifesaving Club, the venue for the activation, was dressed in the livery of IBM Outthink Melanoma.


  • 4.88 million engagements from 45.6 million media impressions: Celebrity films attracted 4.25 million views;  Twitter generated approximately 8.2 million impressions; Facebook posts reached 4.4 million.
  • Australian Financial Review ran a story on page 3, addressing the C-Suite audience, while Tech AU extensively covered the story for IT professionals.
  • All 4 national broadcasters covered the story, including Channel 7, Australia's highest rating news. 6 in-depth radio interviews ran, including the ABC which doesn't take commercials.
  • 22% of people who met Watson had an on-site skin check, many of whom were then referred onto a dermatologist. And some had suspicious moles identified then removed - like Ian Kelsal.


Agency team
Ogilvy Australia

George P. Johnson
Text 100
Mycelium Studios

Melanoma Institute

Need more info?