As someone who always looks for the positive in any situation, I have concluded that for our industry to continually be under attack, we must surely be doing something right. No, I have not had too much sun, this is not a position of reverse psychology nor of blind optimism, it is simply how I like to look at things.
Take a moment to think about it. In the whole scheme of things, the indoor tanning industry is really quite small. Sure, most people love to tan and a decent percentage of our population uses tanning beds (although I would always like to see more!). Yet in terms of our industry’s representation within the whole market economy, it is certainly not in the same league as, say, the car industry. Yet the amount of media attention our industry receives relative to its size would have you thinking otherwise.
Sections of the UK’s print media and their accompanying online versions have an unquenchable thirst for the sensational. Weak and lazy journalism, the need to provide 24/7 news and of course the mind-blowing budgets of big pharmacological enterprises’ back door support for targeted media campaigns regularly conspire against us. Of course, as you will be only too well aware of in the U.S., this isn’t a scenario exclusive to the UK’s indoor tanning market.
It is so important that your salon supports your trade association as they offer real solutions to help protect the future of our industry.
Being organised with our rebuttals, challenges and our ever-improving ability to respond swiftly with credible information and sound-bites has seen an increasing number of stories quashed before they even got out there, as we have been able to rebut the claim or add some common sense to the debate. The professional element of our industry has a much better representation in the media nowadays, and we are feeling really quite optimistic about some positive media coverage for tanning bed use in the very near future.
I genuinely believe that most trade associations are in a stronger position now than they have ever been. Our industry is regularly being represented at the very highest levels, including sitting on the committee that is producing national public health policy guidance on sunlight exposure. Ultimately, this is not even just about science; it is about truth, evidence and rational thought. It is so important that your salon supports your trade association as they offer real solutions to help protect the future of our industry.
Our challenging of the established protocols that influence and determine so much has certainly ruffled feathers. And there’s no doubt the big guys really don’t like it. Well chaps, that’s just tough.
Of course, this hasn’t all come about overnight and without doubt there’s still a long way to go. However, the fact that we regularly have to succumb to some quite ridiculous, indeed outrageous, attacks and accusations in the media does suggest to me that we are indeed a hard nut to crack, and I have no doubt that with hindsight, this is not what the anti-tanning lobby nor their deep-pocketed providers expected.
From my perspective, the key to ongoing success is to continually work at upping our own game and also to be more strategic in our approach to the big picture. Yes, we will always have to be reactive to the lazy media hacks who, targeted by the allegedly credible providers of sensationalist and scaremongering “stories,” sap more of our time and energy than they should.
But it’s all in a day’s work and I really do enjoy my job! ■
In the tanning industry since 1982, Gary is Managing Director of the UK subsidiary of Ergoline, and runs Ergoline Plus, the exclusive distributor for a wide range of sunless products and spray systems. He is also Chairman of the Media Committee for the UK’s Sunbed Association & a European Sunlight Association member.
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