"Breast Cancer Awareness"

I had a grandmother that passed away from breast cancer. I have friends that have battled breast cancer and chances are pretty darn good that you know someone that has as well.

Cancer infuriates me. I shouldn’t take it so personally, but for some reason I do and always will.The world would be a better place if a lot of things changed but I honestly believe it would be a much better place if all forms of cancer were eliminated. Soapbox – stepping down.

October is of course National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a time dedicated to increasing awareness of early breast cancer detection. In case you’ve been hiding under a rock, that’s the simple explanation as to why you’re seeing pink donuts promoted as well as 320-pound men on TV rocking pink gloves while tackling each other each Sunday.

Yesterday’s Chicago Tribune raised an interesting question around the value of breast cancer awareness noting that during the 26 year lifespan of the campaign,  the actual number of deaths being caused by breast cancer has only dropped by 2%. Looking at this from a communications perspective, I understand the author’s point. A great amount of time, effort and money is being devoted to awareness, awareness, awareness….around early detection instead of prevention.

Awareness versus action is always  an interesting debate in the communications world. The infamous Pink Glove Dance has now generated 11 million+ views (not to mention the additional views from replicated spots). Similarly, the “I Like It On” meme on Facebook has churned up a good amount of attention for the issue this week. But can the meme or video be tied to an actionable difference impacting the issue? Where’s the driving call to action for these million of viewers? Are more women in fact preventing themselves from being at risk of having breast cancer?

Personally, I’m a firm believer that awareness is a crucial foundation for driving action. Simply put, people need to know and thoroughly understand an issue before they devote personal time and effort to acting on said issue. This requires repeated message exposure.

Admit it, we’ve all failed on this front with previous projects. Showing grand results and ROI can be very tough and whenever possible, a clear call to action should always, always drive your awareness campaign. Provide an actionable link (fundraising, online petition, etc.), develop a cause marketing partnership or find other creative ways to engage your audience. To this end, Komen has done a downright remarkable job:

2%? Sure, we’d all love to see that statistic read 99% instead. But, I’ll put money down that a lot more women would be battling breast cancer today if it wasn’t for the huge awareness the community has generated. And if it’s a video or simple meme that’s driving awareness and prompting them to think about getting a mammogram down the line, all the better.

Now, take it a step further, go take some action of your own and donate to cancer research.

p.s. Feel free to rip the photo above and use away for your own breast cancer promotion efforts this month – that’s why I shot it.

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Cause Marketing, Facebook, Public Relations, Social Media


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