Avon builds breast cancer 'army'

A new army has entered the fray in the aggressive battle to fight against breast cancer.

A new army has entered the fray in the aggressive battle to fight against breast cancer.

Engaging formidable PR tactics, the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation and the Avon Foundation launched the Love/Avon Army of Women campaign. The vision of the effort came from Susan Love, who wanted to unite one million healthy women across the country, of all ages and ethnicities, to participate in research and help spread awareness about this deadly cancer.

The foundations retained BNC PR for the launch in an effort to gain widespread media and consumer attention and encourage women across the US to sign up.

“The focus of the PR effort was to tell women they can take the next step and do even more for breast cancer prevention research,” says Naz Sykes, executive director for Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation. “They can be partners with scientists doing cutting-edge work.”

The team also planned the launch around October, which is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and when the annual Avon Walk takes place in New York City.

“Our primary tactic was to get an exclusive launch story on a major TV news program that provided us with the best platform and a mass target audience for delivering the... message,” says Rick Jennings, VP of media relations at BNC.

Today agreed to run several segments, including a studio interview, pre-taped backgrounder on Susan Love, and live interviews during the October 1 show.

The set was decked out in pink (carpet, balloons, and banners) and effort signage. Organizers rallied hundreds of women in Army of Women T-shirts to line up outside Today's studio to hold up signage.

To date, 260,000 women have signed up via armyofwomen.org.

“PR and marketing are key in our goal to ultimately recruit one million women,” Sykes says. “We want to spread the word to every single woman, [and her] mother, daughter, and best friend, that this is the future of breast cancer research.”

In addition to Today, broadcast coverage included NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams, ABC World News with Charles Gibson, The View, Good Morning America, and a host of radio outlets.

Print coverage included O! Oprah Magazine, Women's Health, Fitness, and Real Simple.

Strategic promotional events and ongoing media outreach will continue to build awareness and increase the “Army,” Jennings says.

PRWeek's View
This campaign is distinctive because it leverages PR to not only spread a message, but also build a community.

That community now serves as an online resource providing researchers much-needed and unprecedented, timely access to healthy women – a critical component to prevention research.

And, not only did the campaign capture a wealth of media attention, but it also started a viral grassroots movement, engaging hundreds of thousands of supporters, many of whom have initiated their own efforts through blogs, e-mail blasts, or messaging their communities and personal networks.

PR team: Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation (Santa Monica, CA), Avon Foundation (New York), and BNC PR (Los Angeles)

Campaign: Love/Avon Army of Women Launch

Duration: May-October 2008

Budget: $125,000

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