As a founding partner, along with Andrew Geroski, of Left Hand Creative, LLC, Nat Gutwirth has been practicing as a copywriter, producer, creative director and content developer in the Philadelphia area since “the advent of movable type.” Ten years ago, Nat worked with LBBC in the creation of a number of marketing pieces promoting our programs and services. This past March, Left Hand served as the creative lead in the development of our “You have Breast Cancer” 25th Anniversary awareness campaign.
You have Breast Cancer. The moment a woman hears those words for the first time, as eight hundred newly-diagnosed patients do every day in America, everything changes.
The disease impacts every aspect of a woman’s life, from her private self-image to her public self-confidence. Relationships, family, career, intimacy, pregnancy and childbearing—the repercussions of living with breast cancer are everywhere, coloring every experience and complicating every choice.
And yet, experience tells us that the the sooner a woman comes to terms with this new reality, the better she will be able to adapt and respond, focusing her time and attention on finding the best strategy for her treatment and for her life.
Speaking personally, I know about this as far too many of us do—because breast cancer has touched, and taken, the lives of women I love. But as a man, I don’t, and can’t, know it from experience. I can’t feel what it feels like.
So when my partner in Lefthand Creative, Andrew Geroski and I, were asked by Living Beyond Breast Cancer to create a new advertising campaign in conjunction with the organization’s 25th anniversary, we at first intimidated by the challenge. What qualifies two men whose chances of contracting the disease are thankfully remote, to craft a message that will resonate with women at such a vulnerable moment, a moment outside of our firsthand experience?
Fortunately, we knew we had an extraordinary resource to draw on in the staff and volunteers of LBBC. Having worked with the organization back in the 1990s, we were aware of the power of experience that differentiates LBBC from every other breast cancer charity. The wisdom and vision of the LBB team are the product of a direct understanding of what the disease is, how it behaves and what it feels like from the inside. And the passion they bring to their work is fueled by that first-person understanding of the pain, fear, anger and isolation every woman with breast cancer must feel and the determination, perseverance and optimism she must find in herself to push forward, and live beyond.
Theirs was the insight that guided us to create the campaign we ultimately presented to LBBC. The face of the brand will be the faces of those real women, and the call to arms will be the four words that each of them has had to hear, process and move beyond: You have breast cancer.
Our charge was to address the woman who has just been diagnosed because she stands to benefit most from the support, advice and services LBBC provides, and because her involvement at this early stage has the greatest potential to help her become a part of the solution for the benefit of the eight hundred women who will be diagnosed tomorrow, and the day after, and the day after that.
As of this writing, it is too early to know if the campaign will succeed in its objective to reach hundreds of newly diagnosed women, or to motivate them to reach out to LBBC. But for all of us who worked on its development, including our colleagues at Tandem Associates who set the strategy and led the process, and LBBC leadership who provided priceless guidance and expertise, the results have already been enormously gratifying. In previewing our messages with breast cancer survivors, we have seen reactions of recognition, acceptance and identification. So if this campaign speaks to any woman with breast cancer, we hope it will speak to all of them.
Stories for our 25th Anniversary Blog Series will be published throughout the year. If you have a story you’d like to share about your history with LBBC that might be featured as part of our series, contact Kevin Gianotto by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.