Looking at Breast Cancer

Before becoming pregnant, I had been sniffing around for a context/ cause in which I could shoehorn my made bazookas. Initially I was looking into Breast cancer. I instantly felt uncomfortable with this option. I am a student. I know nothing about breast cancer. I am not a tactful person. I am not worthy.

Although breast cancer marketing has had a firm focus on fun and friendly campaigns, it is not something I could confidently promote without the fear of upsetting or offending cancer patients. (even finding the right words here is hard- can you call them cancer sufferers?)

It seems to me that treating cancer in this country and actually in the world is pretty much covered in an irreverent way. Why try and add to an area already saturated with successful awareness campaigns.

Whilst looking at the breast cancer angle, I did look at some fantastic marketing campaigns in the UK and abroad. The ‘Race for Life’ events for ‘Cancer Research UK’ have become massive earners for the charity. The branding for this has made it unmistakable. The use of the pink ribbon to denote breast cancer support has become ubiquitous.


Cancer Research UK’s Race for Life

Taking it a little more adult and risqué are the ‘Facebook’ campaigns to encourage women to write suggestive status updates about where they put their handbag when they get home “I like it on the floor”, creating a secret language for those in the club.

bc fb

Facebook breast cancer ‘awareness’ campaign. 2010

New Zealand had an imaginative awareness campaign featuring a giant tumour following women down the street, or filling up their houses- actually addressing the denial of the prospect of the cancer itself.


New Zealand Breast Cancer awareness campaign by BBDO agency. 2009

All of these things have something in common- they don’t actually show you the breasts. Is there something so offensive with the actual articles? Have breast become too sexualised that the human form needs to be censored?

A Japanese company has developed a self adhesive breast examination tool which shows women how to check their breasts for lumps. It is essential that this clearly shows how it is to be used.


Smart Pink breast cancer self-diagnosis kit by Mi Hyun Ryu and So Ra Park. 2010

I played around with using a light-hearted approach to the subject, rather than simply ‘raising awareness’. Awareness campaigns seemed a bit pointless really. A more useful strategy would be to promote how to purposefully check yourself, especially aimed at the younger generation.

check your chebs


I looked at using more risqué and less formal language, could breast pasties be used? Now- these photos are not the way this is intended to be viewed, just documentation of the articles produced. I was nervous about the obvious sexual nature of these. I was trying the make breasts seem natural and not objects of desire in the male gaze. I think this line of work failed.

pasties collected

Could a campaign involving stickers in ladies loos be successful in encouraging women to cop a feel?

Stickers of images of hands could be placed at the average breast height, so when a woman stands in the mirror, the ‘hands’ appear to be hovering or touching her breasts. I actually really like this idea, and may play around with it at a later date…

Anyway, breast cancer is more than covered by the world of awareness campaigns and design.  I got pregnant and everything changed…

please let me know what you think!

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