Tue, January 22 2013

The tale of the unlikely messenger - and message

Katya Andresen's avatar

Author, Robin Hood Marketing

Filed under:   Marketing essentials •

We’re often far more effective as marketers if we control our tendency to seize the role of messenger and contemplate who might be better at that job than us.

Here’s the story of an organization that did just that - and landed on one of the most surprising - and creative - choices of messengers that I’ve ever encountered. And it led to the mostly unlikely (and successful) of partnerships.

The Ovarian Cancer Symptom Awareness Organization was trying to figure out the best way to get women talking about their health - and learning about the often-missed symptoms of ovarian cancer.  They could have gone the regular routes - through doctors or public service announcements.  Instead, they took a step back and looked for times and places when women were most open about their health - and comfortable learning about ovarian cancer.  The answer was not what you’d expect: when they were bring their pets to the vet.

“It has been noted through our Illinois State Veterinary Medical Association members that pet owners talking about their pet’s health often feel comfortable talking to the veterinarian about their own health concerns.  This provides that veterinarian a platform that offers an easy transition into difficult concerns and conversations.  Raising awareness about this silent killer and saving lives will be our goal,” said Peter Weber, executive director, Illinois State Veterinary Medical Association of a new partnership with the Ovarian Cancer Symptom Awareness Organization.

And so was born the OCSA Veterinary Outreach Program (VOP)—- and its mission of “fighting ovarian cancer with animal passion.” 

I love this example of thinking about messengers, messages and partners far outside our daily experience - but intimately close to our audience.

And as a fascinating aside, there’s yet another interesting intersection of these partners.  According to Weber, “There are ongoing studies that have been done and are ongoing that are extremely promising as it relates to dogs “sniffing” out ovarian cancer. . There is no simple, effective screening test for ovarian cancer and the dogs are demonstrating tremendous accuracy in identifying women with the malignancy. The medical profession has known for a long time that cancer or any other specific type of tissue can secrete aromatic compounds that have a unique odor to them. Dogs have a highly developed sense of smell and can identify healthy (benign) women from women with ovarian cancer. The two primary studies have shown that dogs were effective in identifying malignancy both through smelling the patients’ breath and urine.”

There you go!

How can you apply this kind of innovative thinking to your cause?

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