Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women in the UK. Around
34,000 new cases are diagnosed every year, and in Scotland one-in-12
women will develop the disease at some point in their lives, and each
year 220 men throughout the UK are diagnosed with breast cancer.
October is internationally recognised as Breast Cancer Awareness month,
and charities such as the Imperial Cancer Research Fund (ICRF) use this
period to focus attention on its campaigns and heighten awareness of
breast cancer, while raising funds to fight it.
Following the death of a close friend from breast cancer, Rachel Jones,
partner in the Edinburgh-based Great Circle Communications wanted to do
something useful in the fight against the disease and the consultancy
became involved in the campaign on a pro bono basis.
As Breast Cancer Awareness month had never had a launch in Scotland
before, the main objective was to raise awareness of the disease through
media coverage and events.
The theme for the month was chosen as Thpink! - Think Pink, which has
been used by the Cancer Research Fund for the past two years and
reflects the international pink awareness ribbons. Great Circle decided
to hold a business breakfast as it reasoned that other charity events
tended to be along the lines of expensive balls and targeted those with
money who were already aware of the messages being sent out. It was felt
that the breakfast, at a cost of pounds 15 per head would be more likely
to appeal to a younger audience and would attract more men.
Three speakers were lined up for the breakfast at the Balmoral Hotel in
Edinburgh - Sir Michael Gow, a former GOC (General Officer Commanding),
Belinda Robertson, the cashmere entrepreneur and agony aunt and breast
cancer survivor Sue Frost agreed to speak at the breakfast, which was
the ICRF’s first fund raising event in Scotland.
All the people involved in this campaign donated their services and
products for free: a corporate identity for a fund-raising breakfast
being created by Kirkhill Design Consultants.
Only a week before the beginning of the awareness raising month, it was
decided to print 24,000 credit card-sized information leaflets, funded
by Greenland Interactive. These contained information for men and women
on how to examine their breasts and what signs they should look for in
the early stages of breast cancer. These were distributed by the
Imperial Cancer Research Fund throughout the UK, to a variety of
A photocall was organised to generate extra coverage, featuring the
Scottish Rugby team decked out in pink rugby shirts.
Prior to the business breakfast, media coverage was secured in many
publications, including the health and business pages of the Herald, the
business pages of the Scotsman, the Edinburgh Evening News among others.
On the day of the event, there was radio and television coverage on
Scottish Television evening news bulletin.
Subsequent coverage has appeared in the Guardian, the Herald and the
local press. The rugby team ’in the pink’ photocall was a big success,
achieving excellent coverage in the Daily Mail, the Herald, the Evening
News, the Edinbugh Herald and Post and local papers in the Scottish
The breakfast was attended by 210 people, 60 of whom were men. Although
it was not a major aim of the breakfast, pounds 1,000 was raised for the
Imperial Cancer Research Fund. Following Breast Cancer Awareness month,
the ICRF has also reported a significant increase in both income and in
offers of corporate and individual assistance.
Requests for the information cards have flooded in, including requests
from two blue-chip companies which wished to distribute thousands of the
cards to employees.
This campaign was a huge success not only in term of the objective of
raising awareness of breast cancer, but in galvanising support from many
different parties. The message managed to get across to an audience it
wouldn’t normally reach, with the emphasis on the involvement of
Client: Imperial Cancer Research Fund
PR Team: Great Circle Communications and in-house team
Campaign: Breast Cancer Awareness month, Scotland
Timescale: October 1998