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Pancreatic cancer campaign prompts backlash

Charity’s marketing featured people saying they wished they had another form of cancer
Pancreatic cancer campaign

A controversial awareness campaign from the charity Pancreatic Cancer Action has prompted a backlash after it featured people with pancreatic cancer saying they wished they had another form of the disease.

The new 'Envy' campaign highlights the low survival rates of pancreatic cancer sufferers, compared with breast cancer and testicular cancer patients.

While the campaign's intentions are undisputed, the 'I wish I had breast cancer' strapline has been deemed 'insensitive', 'unsettling' and 'divisive', prompting an angry response from other cancer charities, who have accused Pancreatic Cancer Action of pitting one cancer against another.

Baroness Dyleth Morgan, chief executive of Breast Cancer Campaign, was one senior figure to announce her disapproval of the message.

“This is an important issue to address; however, by doing so in this way, Pancreatic Cancer Action has belittled the impact of other cancers,” she said.

Morgan's sentiments were echoed by representatives of Breast Cancer UK, Breast Cancer Care and Breakthrough Breast Cancer.

Ali Stunt, founder of Pancreatic Cancer Action, and a survivor of the disease, apologised for any hurt the advertisement had caused: "Our advert is not stating that someone wished they had cancer but rather they wish they could swap pancreatic cancer with a cancer that gives them a better chance of survival."

“When we devised the idea of the advertisement, we knew that it would create some noise but we also knew it was what we needed to do to ultimately create awareness of a cancer that has a shockingly low survival rate,” she added.

“We're all campaigning for the same cause – to improve everyone's chance of beating cancer. We just had to shout that little bit louder to get heard”.

The ads appeared initially in the London Evening Standard and the London and Manchester editions of Metro, but can now also be seen on some London Underground trains, the latter version without the controversial strapline.

The campaign, which also appeared on YouTube, was devised by the advertising agency Team Darwin, and backed by Macmillan Cancer Support.

The Advertising Standards Authority said it had received 20 complaints about the advert, mostly objecting to the idea that some types of cancer are better than others.

About 8,000 people are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer each year, many too late for surgery, the only treatment option. Pancreatic cancer has a five-year survival rate of 3 per cent, compared with 85 per cent for breast cancer, 97 per cent for testicular cancer and 67 per cent for cervical cancer.

Article by
Tara Craig

13th February 2014

From: Marketing

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