Ad Campaign: "I Wish I Had Breast Cancer"

A new advertising campaign from the Pancreatic Cancer Action, a British organization, has caused an uproar. 

The marketers knew what they were doing: planning for outrage, Founder Ali Stunt introduced the campaign in a website post, "No Cancer Advert That Saves a Single Life Can Be Accused of Going Too Far":

"I  want to remind all those that read this blog post that today 160 women will find out they have breast cancer, eight women will find out they have cervical cancer and seven men will be diagnosed with testicular cancer.  It is vital that everyone finds out about the signs and symptoms of these cancers too.  Please find the relevant charity details below.

"Today sees the launch of the UK's very first awareness advertising campaign for pancreatic cancer, which is being shown on the London Underground stations and tube cars as well as in London and Manchester newspapers such as the Metro and Evening Standard." (Read more.)

This post includes survival rates for cancers, with pancreatic at a sad 3%:Cancer stats

Criticism of the campaign has been harsh, including this retort on the site

"Oh boy. Because obviously the best way to call attention to one disease is at the expense of another.

"There's just one problem. Breast cancer is a like a fat man wearing a Hawaiian shirt: It covers a lot of ground. If you're going to wish for breast cancer, make sure you put in a special request for the non-metastatic kind. Because in 2014, there is no cure for metastatic breast cancer. The median survival rate is surely not as good as the Pancreatic Action Network  seems to think it is. In general, breast cancer survival figures don't necessarily represent significant gains, as they are distorted by the over diagnosis of Stage I breast cancers, which have increased five-fold since the advent of mammography in the 1980s.

"Also, our research situation is much like yours: it sucks. Metastatic breast cancer is responsible for 90 percent of the morbidity and mortality, but gets less than 5 percent of the research budget."

Pancreatic Cancer Action stands by its campaign. On its website, it posted a video with interviews about the approach."

Discussion Starters: 

  • What's your view of the ad campaign: appropriate for the cause, insulting, or something else? 
  • Watch the Pancreatic Cancer Action organization's video about its approach. Do you find this response convincing ?