Male celebrities including the former England footballers Les Ferdindand and Jamie Redknapp and television presenters Adrian Chiles and Ben Shephard have designed a range of underwear for Marks & Spencer (M&S) to raise awareness of prostate cancer.
Along with sportsmen, Jason Leonard and Jimmy White, the celebrities have put their stamp on six styles of underpants, which will be sold in M&S stores nationwide in aid of The Prostate Cancer Charity.
It is the first time that M&S, which has raised almost £1m for the charity in five years, has created a range of celebrity-designed products.
The underpants, priced at £15 for a two-pack (all proceeds will go to the charity), go on sale today, 1 March 2011.
Ben Shephard, who is backing the campaign as his father was treated for prostate cancer, said: “I have to say, I am very proud of the design for my M&S pants. I even did market research and took them to my hairdressers. They agree they will be pretty popular. Even Jeremy Paxman will be queuing up for a pair.”
Adrian Chiles said he was keen to get the message out there about prostate cancer after a friend was diagnosed with the disease: “With my design I have effectively worn my heart – which clearly belongs to West Bromwich Albion FC – on my M&S underpants. Everyone knows I am a massive ‘Baggies’ fan, and I naturally looked to the terraces for my inspiration. What struck me was that the 37,000 men diagnosed with prostate cancer every year would not even fit into our stadium, the Hawthorns, let alone their families.”
Les Ferdinand showed team allegiance in his version. “I had a lot of fun designing these pants for M&S,” he said. “I was more than happy to get involved as the proceeds will go to The Prostate Cancer Charity. I am particularly keen to add my voice to this. African Caribbean men are three times more likely to develop prostate cancer, yet there has been a taboo around this in the past.”
Jamie Redknapp said: “I’m really honoured to be part of this project with M&S and The Prostate Cancer Charity. It’s a really important cause and I hope my design sells well and raises vital funds for research into the disease.”
The range will hit stores today to time with Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, which will aim to bring this disease – which kills one man every hour in the UK – further out into the open. The Prostate Cancer Charity is urging people to declare “I’m aware” throughout the month, and take pride in increasing their knowledge of the disease.
John Neate, chief executive at The Prostate Cancer Charity, said: “Our partnership with M&S is invaluable. It extends our presence into communities, giving us a platform to reach people on the high street we could not hope to achieve without them. As well as raising funds, we know from the many calls to our helpline signposted by literature in M&S, how important it is to enabling us to reach men and their families.
“I would like to thank M&S for their continued support – as well as the celebrities who have taken the time to design this exciting new range. I, for one, am excited to see this debut collection in stores. I hope men, and the women who often buy their underwear, head to M&S to help us make this innovative initiative a great success.”
Pin badges, trolley tokens and bottle openers will also be available in store throughout the month, for a suggested donation.