Last month I took my son for his annual check-up, and I mentioned to the doctor that I would soon be turning 50. He got a smirk on his face, looked at me and said “So I guess it’s colonoscopy time!”.

I wasn’t amused.

But after seeing a new campaign from the folks at CBS Cares, I’m not only amused, but also thinking a bit more about getting that colonoscopy. (Don’t worry, I won’t tweet the experience!)

The new campaign is a great example of using humor to address a serious and pressing issue. It’s also a great example of how traditional and new media can work well together.

Let’s face it: no one wants to talk about getting a colonoscopy, let alone actually get one. It’s one of those things we’re more than happy to put off until “another day”. And yet, it’s important. Would a serious PSA about colon cancer get out attention? Maybe, but I’m not sure how effective it would be. But the new CBS Cares campaign is actually quite funny, and features Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne. My first glimpse of the campaign came when I saw this promotion running on CBS:

The promo in and of itself is pretty darn funny, and as I watched, I sat there thinking, “Is this real? Or is it a spoof?”. So, as I was prompted to do in the commercial, I went online to the CBS Cares site to check out this contest, and yes, I did enter for the chance to win a trip to NYC to have the procedure done there.

But I love how the humor continues on the website. On a page telling you what to expect on your trip, you find these little tidbits:

“At approximately 15h00, you will start drinking a laxative. No big deal, but if you’re thinking of doing the walking tour of the city during this phase – FUGGEDABOUTIT! (a New York expression best learned here than in response to your frantic request of a doorman or restaurant manager to use the facilities).”

And then there’s this section about the procedure:

“As the colonoscopy begins, you will be given a drug that will make you feel like you’re at an early 70′s Black Sabbath concert – but without the music. If the doctor starts to look like Ozzy, please report the side effect to him or the Prince of Darkness – whomever you see first.”

Some might be put off by this cavalier attitude toward such a serious thing, but I think it works. And then I love the nice little touch with the quiz at the end of the entry form, particularly the third question:

Colonoscopy Contest

The medical profession is a serious profession, and colon cancer is no laughing matter. And yet this touch of humor might be just what is needed to get people to take it seriously. Because sometimes you just gotta lighten things up a bit.

How do you feel about this campaign? Are there ways you can adapt this technique and use humor to address serious issues?