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Don Seaman, Manager, Marketing Communications, TVB
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Actually, who among us isn’t aware that it’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month? Pink is everywhere. If you watch football on Sundays, you’ll see that the NFL has done their marketing best with an all-out pink blitz, with everything from penalty flags, players’ gloves, down-and-distance CGI graphics, stadium signage, sideline wardrobes all the color of peonies.
The juxtaposition of the tender color
with the brutal game isn’t as stark as it appears. Beneath the surface, the pink represents a reality that’s vastly more brutal.
In fact, there was a recent story of a fan who started doing self-exams due to the NY Jets’ support of Breast Cancer Awareness month, found a lump, which ultimately saved her life, thanks to watching her favorite team on TV.
The Breast Cancer Awareness initiative began in 1985, and since then, awareness has led to earlier detection. Thanks to earlier detection and breakthroughs in treatment, mortality rates from breast cancer have fallen since 1989, particularly for those under age 50. But it’s a slow, slow decline.
But people aren’t statistics. The tangible impact of breast cancer – or any health crisis, actually – comes from looking into the faces of those it’s touched. These are stories from local communities. The stories resonate because they touch individual lives.
And that’s where local TV broadcasters can be their most instrumental to the cause. They humanize the marketing blitz. Stations feature events all month long. Communities everywhere host “Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure” 5ks, where we see our neighbors running, inspired by a loved one who is a breast cancer survivor – or perhaps is a survivor themselves. WFOR Miami is one of the stations sponsoring their local 5k run. KYW-TV and the Susan G. Komen Foundation teamed up to turn Philadelphia’s skyline pink in an annual “Lights for the Cure” campaign.
WLKY in Louisville, KY promoted a second-annual Burger King Breast Cancer Awareness Truck and Tractor Pull, underscoring just how many testosterone-fueled events are lending their support to those who suffer from this disease.
Sometimes, it’s even from one of their own, like KNBC-LA’s Lolita Lopez. Lolita shared her story with her viewers, and how she connected with a community of cancer survivors she found along the way. In Chicago, Roz Varon of WLS is not only their morning traffic anchor, but she’s also a Stage 4 breast cancer survivor. She’s also been very public with her own very private battle. She’ll proudly be participating in Chicago’s “Making Strides Against Breast Cancer” Walk this later this month.
And we all remember ABC’s Robin Roberts’ brave fight against MDS, another type of cancer. But in 2007, she was diagnosed with an early form of breast cancer that she also managed to beat, although with much less fanfare.
These brave women, and others like them, chose to share their personal experiences with their viewers to help save and inspire others.
Corporate America can also get in on the local fundraising bandwagon. The maker of Estroven (a menopause drug) will donate $1,000 to Avon Walk for Breast Cancer for every broadcast journalist who wears a pink bathrobe on air. The local morning news team of WHEC-TV in Rochester, NY gladly wore the pink robes, as did reporters from KCTV5 in Kansas City, WTWO Good Day Live in Terre Haute, and Twin Cities Live of KSTP in St. Paul.
These are not passing associations from the local stations. Chicago’s WLS has been involved with the “Making Strides” walk for 13 years, long before Roz’ diagnosis. These are significant commitments to their communities for this cause.
There are countless examples of how local TV broadcasters are getting involved all month long, from all around the country. These are just a few examples.
Breast cancer, like any other disease, can hit anyone, anywhere. Local broadcast TV stations do more than just air reminders to get mammograms and PSAs about cancer prevention advice. They devote their powerful airtime to save lives in their community. Sure, this is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but it’s a hometown fight.
Other examples of local stations getting involved in Breast Cancer Awareness Month:
KCBS/KCAL in LA is the media partner for the American Cancer Society’s “Making Strides Against Breast Cancer” Walk this month.
KPIX/KBCW in San Francisco is supporting the Making Strides Walk later this month in San Francisco and San Jose.
WGCL in Atlanta sponsored the Atlanta Two Day Walk for Breast Cancer.
KTRK in Houston will run a half-hour special edition of Mirror Mirror that their station produces for their Live Well subchannel. During the event, host Rebecca Spera interviews her mother, who is a breast cancer survivor.
In Hartford, CT, WVIT is sponsoring a 12-hour free mammogram event on October 23rd.