Colorectal cancer is the second leading cancer killer, but it doesn’t have to be. Early screening could prevent nearly two-thirds of colorectal cancer deaths each year. For more than 8 years, Ogilvy PR has worked with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Division of Cancer Prevention and Control, developing an ongoing national public awareness campaign to encourage Americans aged 50 years and older to get screened.
In the creation of key messages for this campaign, an extensive research program was developed to capture the attitudes and opinions of its target consumers, including Hispanic and African-American audiences and people on Medicare. Healthcare professionals was a secondary audience. As prior research showed that adults aged 50 years and older get most of their health information from broadcast sources, material development and channel strategies were focused primarily on television and radio.
Designed to increase knowledge of the condition and emphasize the importance of early detection, the Screen for Life campaign was born. First launched in March 1999 at the start of National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, the campaign featured a mix of radio, TV and print PSAs designed to motivate target audiences. Thanks to a partnership with the Entertainment Industry Foundation (EIF) and the National Colorectal Cancer Research Alliance (NCCRA), the campaign secured star power in 2005, capitalizing upon the personal commitment of Katie Couric, Morgan Freeman, Diane Keaton and most recently, Jimmy Smits.
In seven years, the campaign’s cumulative unpaid TV PSA value totals 191,333 plays, creating 2.8 billion viewer impressions worth $21 million in commercial ad value. In addition, the campaign’s cumulative print PSA value totals almost $3 million in unpaid ad value to an audience of nearly 63 million.