Thinking Beyond Pink: NFL Works to Make Sure Breast Cancer Message is Getting Across

The NFL is raising breast cancer awareness.

(from Sports Business Journal, October 1, 2012) The NFL is entering the fourth year of its Breast Cancer Awareness (BCA) campaign and almost everything on the field will turn pink at some point throughout October.  During the first three years of this promotion, players have donned pink wristbands, armbands, chin straps, shoelaces, cleats, and gloves.  Games were started by the flip of a pink coin, played with footballs ornamented with the Breast Cancer Awareness pink ribbon symbol, and the fields shared the same symbol.  Several of those items worn by players have been auctioned off to help raise money for the American Cancer Society.  Another part of the game which will be turned pink is the kicking tees.  These will probably be signed by kickers and auctioned off as well.

The central point of the NFL’s “Awareness” campaign is women over the age of 40 need early screening in order to make a “Crucial Catch.”

“Sure, the pinkout is memorable, it pops on TV, and we’re at the point where our fans expect it now,” said Peter O’Reilly, the NFL’s Vice President of Fan Strategy and Marketing, “now it’s about making sure those dollars raised work hard and to make that message of screening and our American Cancer Society partnership resonate.”

Money made from sales of player gear and profits from NFL/BCA licensed goods, including pink jerseys, water bottles, and even pink Terrible Towels, has amplified throughout the three year partnership.  It went from $400,000 in 2009 to $1.1 million in 2010 up to $1.5 million in 2011.

According to Anna Isaacson, NFL Director of Community Affairs, the league’s research shows that at least 65% of fans realize getting screened for cancer is the central point to their campaign.  This leads the league to believe their message is getting across to spectators.

All teams will hold one or more “Crucial Catch” games this month, beginning with the Bears and Cowboys “Monday Night Football” game in Dallas.  Most of the games dedicated to the BCA endeavor will be held in the last week of October.

The BCA effort started as a team enterprise and grew to a league wide advertising program.  All NFL managed media will encourage the BCA project.