If your TV was tuned to the Super Bowl on Sunday night with the other 111 million people in the U.S., you may have noticed the Chevrolet commercial supporting the “Purple Roads” campaign for World Cancer Day. It was refreshing to see a coveted Super Bowl time slot dedicated to a global health epidemic that brings a much more powerful message than the usual clanging beer bottles, snack food promotions and over-the-top caricatures, particularly when there are so many disease awareness days that it’s difficult to keep track of them all.
Through a quick survey, Spectrum found that there are dozens of disease awareness days and months on the calendar – nearly one for every day – so when World Cancer Day got a plug during the Super Bowl, we thought that was a big deal.
So, what was the end result? Yesterday individuals and organizations around the world united not only to fight the disease and find a cure for cancer, but to raise awareness and clarify the misconceptions surrounding it. In fact, this year’s slogan was “Debunk the Myths,” including these four major cancer myths:
- We don’t need to talk about cancer.
- There are no signs or symptoms of cancer.
- There is nothing I can do about cancer.
- I don’t have the right to cancer care.
Hopefully the Super Bowl was able to shine a light on the top cancer myths and encourage people living with the disease around the world to take action – whether by taking a proactive approach to their own care, talking to others about what can be done or volunteering their time to the cause. That’s what awareness days are for, right?
While we’re on the topic, it’s fitting to take a look back at just what makes a global disease awareness campaign memorable and effective. In my opinion what really counts is:
Does it get my attention?
- With so much information reaching us each day through social media, online news, email, etc., the mere fact that an awareness campaign actually reaches key audiences should be considered successful.
Does it challenge me to think differently and take action?
- An example: What started as one funny, irreverent hashtag about toilets has led to a global health campaign, complete with a body of scholarly research and some of the world’s biggest celebrities at its forefront.
Does it clearly communicate the ‘why I should care’ factor?
- It all starts with the story.
- They say “if it were easy then everyone would be doing it.” When it comes to advocacy on a global scale, make it easy to participate and tell a good story that makes people care.
- Bolster social media action with tangible results in the form of donation. “For every (click, share like), company X will donate $1.”
ROI for the Win
- This is always a challenge when discussing campaigns involving program-based funding. In the “use it or lose it” mentality, there is a risk of focusing more on the spend than the ROI. Reaching agreements with sponsors that will allow measurable progress AND enhance a donor’s reputation is essential for the win-win.
A few recent “Disease Day” campaigns that effectively showcase the above:
World Cancer Day, February 4
- Chevrolet’s purple social media profile campaign, which partnered with American Cancer Society
- Big-stage advertising, but quick and easy ways for individuals to participate on social media
- Purple profile = $1 donated to ACS
- Over one million Facebook and Twitter users turned their profiles purple, raising $1 million for American Cancer Society by the end of the day
World Population Day, July 11
- 7 Billion Actions campaign, 2010-2012
- Built around the anticipated birth of the world’s 7 billionth person to raise awareness on issues such as health, adolescent pregnancy and eliminating poverty
- Revisit the campaign through its Facebook page
World Toilet Day, November 19
- To raise awareness on sanitation and health, access to toilets
- The “strike” campaign featuring Matt Damon, Olivia Wilde, Richard Branson went viral. Damon’s video has over 1 million views on YouTube.
- Edgy social media campaign and hashtag opens people’s eyes but also challenges them to think
It was exciting to see that World Cancer Day had a starring role in a Super Bowl commercial, and we can hope that it inspired more people in the U.S. (and around the world) to take action and educate themselves on the issue. Starting the discussion is the first step in elevating the cancer conversation, and we’re happy Chevrolet spoke up.
What recent global advocacy campaigns stand out in your mind?