Stigma from years of anti-smoking advertising had convinced people that if you have lung cancer, you were reckless with your health and brought it on yourself. The fact of the matter is, many with lung cancer never smoked a day in their lives. But this belief made it difficult for Lung Cancer Alliance to drive donations and support for research or governmental advocacy.
People lack empathy when it comes to lung cancer, and we exploited that insight in our “No One Deserves to Die” campaign. Strategically speaking, we threw it back into people’s faces, forcing them to rethink their own preconceptions.
How it Worked
Since every dollar mattered and earned media was a need, not a hope, we began the effort with an un-branded teaser campaign to generate a buzz and provoke thousands of emotional reactions. And, as we hoped, it worked. The campaign was the #2 trending topic on Yahoo. It was covered by 120 news outlets including Salon.com, The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Perez Hilton. The website saw 154,000 visits in two days. Local TV covered the story in dozens of cities. But the biggest result of all beat any media measurable: four months after the campaign ran, the House and Senate finally passed the Recalcitrant Cancers Research Act which allocated federal research funding according to commensurate mortality. Translation: significantly more funding would be made available to fight lung cancer, the number one cancer killer.