It's Breast Cancer Awareness Month — but that doesn't meant the entire month of October needs to be devoted to decorating everything you own with pink ribbons and buying every BCA-related product on the market. It means remembering to perform a self-exam once a month; it means supporting women affected by it; and it means being grateful for and vigilant about your own health. And some pretty brilliant breast cancer awareness ads are reminding us to do just that. Through creativity, sensitivity, thoughtfulness, and a little spark of genius, these 10 campaigns raise awareness in the best ways possible. Whether they use humor as their primary weapon or whether they hit us right in the feels, they're examples of breast cancer awareness done right.
One in eight women in the U.S. will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer in her lifetime, and approximately 1.4 million women worldwide are diagnosed each year. But early detection can go a long way towards kicking it to the curb. That's something worth raising awareness about, don't you think?
1. Breast Cancer Through Art
Dubai-based breast cancer awareness program Safe & Sound worked with the creative agency Intermarkets in 2006 to dream up this simple yet effective campaign. Sponsored by Khaleej Times, the ads promoted a month-long art exhibition at Dubai’s Burjuman Centre Mall, which also featured art sales and a silent auction to raise funds for Safe & Sound.
2. Know Your Lemons
Worldwide Breast Cancer encourages the free usage of their cheeky and informative leaflets, slideshows, posters, and more to get more women performing breast exams more often. It really does pay to know your lemons!
Over the summer, breast cancer awareness organization CoppaFeel! launched their #WhatNormalFeelsLike campaign. The goal is twofold: First, to help develop a vocabulary to describe breasts that moves beyond simply size; and second, to encourage us to get to know what our breasts feel like, so we’ll be able to catch changes and detect instances of cancer early. I’m going with “squashy” for mine; what does normal feel like to you?
4. Don’t Get Scared — Get Checked
Scottish actress Elaine C. Smith starred in this television spot backed by the Scottish government in 2012. No-nonsense and straight to the point, it also features a whole lot of real women’s breasts. In some ways, I think #WhatNormalFeelsLike is this one’s spiritual successor — they’re both about normalizing breasts, as well as encouraging self-exams for early detection. Also, Elaine C. Smith is awesome.
5. Body Art for Breast Cancer Awareness
In 2010, the Breast Cancer Foundation and DDB Singapore teamed up for a campaign featuring beautiful examples of body painting. The goal, according to the creative agency, was “to draw attention to where it really matters: The breasts.” I think it’s pretty safe to say they succeeded.
6. The Naked Truth
New Zealand’s Breast Cancer Foundation loved the idea behind the Elaine C. Smith ad so much they wanted to create their own version. There’s just one problem: In New Zealand, showing nipples isn't allowed on television before 8:30 p.m., even if they’re totally not sexualized. So they used a sight gag instead, finding a clever workaround that makes a very strong point indeed.
7. Socially Inspired
We told you guys about this one yesterday, but I feel it’s worth drawing attention to again: It’s this year’s effort from the same team that created the body art campaign four years ago, and it’s no less thoughtful or stunning. We might not need to check our breasts quite as frequently as we check our social media feeds — 10 or 20 times a day seems a little excessive, though pretty fun — but it’s definitely a point well made.
8. Nobody’s Immune to Breast Cancer
Another one from DDB, this time working with ALCC Vodacom MFW in 2011, this one features superheroes reminding us that no one is immune to breast cancer. If Storm and Wonder Woman can take the time to give themselves a self-exam every month, so can we, right?
9. Body Image After Breast Cancer
UK-based organization Breast Cancer Care’s main goal is to be a support system for women affected by breast cancer — and that includes helping them through the self-esteem and body image issues that can arise from procedures like mastectomies. These women? They’re amazing. A plus.
10. The Pink Ribbon Highway
In 2013, Icelandic creative agency Brandenburg teamed up with the Icelandic Cancer Society to turn a highway ramp in Reykjavík into the ultimate pink ribbon. True, the pink ribbon symbol is a little fraught these days; furthermore, the highway ribbon could only truly be seen from the air — but it must have been pretty spectacular to watch the road turn pink beneath you as you drive. If it were me, my interest would have been piqued enough to find out what was going on — which is what raising awareness is all about, no?
Images: Intermarkets; Worldwide Breast Cancer; DDB (3)