Breast Cancer Campaigns Need More Action, Less Awareness

Breast cancer
Breast cancer

One of my best friends from high school, Stephanie, died from breast cancer two years ago. She had battled the disease for years and just when things began to positively come together in her life, it came back with a vengeance and killed her.

This being October and Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I thought of Stephanie and the many breast cancer campaigns now in full swing. Are they really helping? Do we need more action and less awareness? Compounding these questions is the release of a new study by M Booth's Mtelligence research and insights group (full disclosure: I am employed by M Booth). The study suggests that awareness campaigns are falling flat and marketers should dig deeper to make a more meaningful impact in the breast cancer fight.

The study surveyed patients, survivors, caregivers, friends and family, and those not personally affected by breast cancer and found that 78 percent say they are not learning anything new from October brand campaigns. What makes this even more significant is that breast cancer patients and survivors are eager for others to better understand their highly personal and intricate journey, from diagnosis to treatment to life post-treatment.

While some brands are doing some powerful work, many campaigns are generic and miss what people want most--demonstrable action towards a cure or vaccine, and support for the challenges faced by those affected.

From my perspective, if companies want to support breast cancer initiatives, they need to understand that it's a truly personal and individualized disease. To be effective and make an impact in today's socially focused world, they need to know their audience and speak directly to them. A good example is my client Weight Watchers new program. More than affixing a pink ribbon to products sold in their meeting rooms, they recently launched Project L.I.F.T - Live Inspired. Fight Together. In partnership with the American Cancer Society, it specifically provides women surviving breast cancer with a community to lean on and resources to help lift their minds, bodies and souls and achieve the best holistic health possible.

Next year will be the 25th anniversary of the creation of the Pink Ribbon... Let's hope it will not be another 25 years until breast cancer is completely eradicated. We owe that to Stephanie, and to all those who are still fighting.