Editor's Note: This blog is a rant on cancer advertising and how it feels when you have cancer. It is in no way having a pop at cancer charities. I am a big supporter / been given support / donated to the following charities Macmillan, Cancer Research UK, Orchid, Anthony Nolan, Breast Cancer UK and Teenage Cancer Trust. I think they do vital work and want them all to continue. That said....
So it's Stand up to cancer week and also #pinktober and you literally can't move for cancer advertising right now. Look! Here's Stephen Graham and the cast of the excellent 'This is England..' series taking Baseball bats to CANCER..I mean really? Why?
All very powerful stuff and for a great cause of raising cash for research, but it leaves me cold and annoyed. Here's another one in the United States for Mercy Health..
The wrong guy! Did you hear that Cancer! You were targeting the right guys all along. Well not anymore buddy. Me and my stiring background music will defeat you! Imagine! God I hate these ads with a passion. It shores up the idea that with just the right attitude "be a rebel, and you'll defeat it" This is complete bollocks of course. About 1 in 2 after diagnosis will die. I'm currently mourning the loss of a friend who died the other week. She was young, smart and had more fight than anyone. Yet she died. The odds were just too great. These facts are a bit awkward when faced with an ad campaign. Then I realised these adverts are not meant for patients at all. This is where it gets interesting. How do you raise cash for vital research? You are advertising something no one in their right minds wants. It's not like selling cars where you can sell positive lifestyle choices like it'll get you to the sea so you can surf! Or off to some lovely Scottish mountains to hike or bike. In reality that big boot will probably never see a surfboard in its life, but will be dead handy for the kids micro scooters and the weekly Morrison's shop. So you have to think of something else instead, so you have to think differently. So that's how you end up with people jogging around a park in Gateshead with a pink wig on. It feels like a positive thing to do in a sea of negativity around a horrible disease. The excellent Dr Liz O'Riordan's latest blog here explores this better than I ever could.
I think mostly I get annoyed by cancer advertising not because it's bad per se, but because it's a reminder of what I have. Everything in my life right now is geared around my disease. Every Monday I'm sitting in a big chair being poisoned. There are a barrage of drugs to take, letters to read and text messages reminding me that missing an appointment will cost the NHS 160 quid. It's relentless. So if I'm sitting down for a cup of coffee and a 'Lewis' repeat on ITV3 the very last thing I want to see is a cancer ad. These campaigns also follow you online. I'll be posting this blog to my Twitter and Facebook accounts, so the algorithms go Aha! This person is interested in Cancer, best give him loads of cancer adverts. No no no! I'm only on Facebook to say Happy birthday to someone, don't give me this stuff. Cancer is lonely, isolating and bloody hard work. No number of celebrity's hitting things with bats will change that. Neither will asinine slogans saying "Cancer we're coming to get you!" .
I think if I was going to design a campaign that would help it's be "GO SEE YOUR BLOODY DOCTOR!" Writ large on billboards. Because getting treatment early is the biggest difference in your life chances with cancer. Everything thing else is just blather.
Currently I'm listening to Arab Strap and The Mountain Goats... Watching Peaky Blinders S3.... Reading Even Dogs in the Wild the new Ian Rankin Rebus.