3 Reasons The New Facebook ‘Breast Cancer Awareness’ Meme Is Wrong

First off, save it.  I am not attacking your mom/sister/aunt/grandmother.  This is not a blog about disrespecting breast cancer, it’s about disrespecting a marketing tactic, and it’s not personal.

Second off, I know the definition of the word “retarded”.  I’m not disrespecting your child/sibling/cousin. The definition I am using here is #3 on the list. Words only have the power you give them… please stop being so generous.

Now for the article…

Facebook is the new hot spot for things to spread fast.  Anything from who got caught cheating, to spreading funny/weird/retarded videos/pictures/blogs, all the way down to boring old viruses and Trojans.

Tired of all of the high school level entertainment, or wishing to add to it, “someone” has decided to add something new to its features.  No, I’m not talking groups, I’m talking MEME’s!!  (Sorry Twitter, if you haven’t noticed, Facebook hates you…)

A meme is… ”the cultural counterpart of genes” (No BS, it really says that which is a fancy pants way of saying that it something that’s passed around quickly, not all that different from the T-Virus…obviously with different results.

What happened?

Somebody” started a meme for Breast Cancer Awareness Month (or it started months ago…whatever).  The gist is simple enough, go on your Facebook status, and post where you like to place your purse when you get home.  Start the status with, “I like it on” and go from there!

Ray, Thanks For Letting Me Use Your Pic Without Permission :-)

So many a young (and mature) lady obliged to post this pseudo sexual message as their status, and much like the bra-color meme of February, it was received with much giggling, inquisitiveness, and a small minority claiming, “This is retarded.”

Why it’s retarded

1. No Call To Action

Now that you’ve convinced all of your guy friends that you like having sex on a coffee table (which can be terribly dangerous…please be safe), what’s next? It’s the equivalent of having a huge pep rally and not telling anyone

No Caption Needed

when or where the game is being held.  A simple link to a general website isn’t gonna do.  You need to give people a specific thing to do next, because (earmuffs to the sensitive people out there) people are lazy.  While they’re

gonna get involved in a viral wave of sexual innuendo, you can be certain that your banal, “after school special”-enthusiasm level message wont spread so fast.

2. Bringing awareness by keeping information out

Let me get this straight.  Women are the only people who need to be aware of breast cancer?  I thought the whole purpose of awareness was to bring something to light that is usually in the dark…not by keeping something in the dark.  This whole campaign has a “Forrest Gump, ‘Seat’s taken’” kind of feel to it.  You don’t want my awareness?  I guess you’re not interested in my donation either…  You say “Guys don’t need to know?”  Sure we’re only 1% of the cases but we’re important too!  More on this later…

3. Lack of Relevance

Now I lied a little earlier in this article.  I implied that I also called the Bra Meme of February (why am I referring to it like it was the Blizzard of 2008?) retarded.  I didn’t.  I got it.  You know why?  (Earmuffs for the young ones) Bra’s hold breastsbreasts get cancerbreast cancer awareness.  I didn’t even have to use my miniscule IQ to decipher that one.  Contrast that meme to this one.  Where do you place your purse, purses hold cosmetics…loose papers…cell phones…..OH purses hold money!!  Take that money and donate to research???  Nope, just awareness, no calls for donation here.  Yep, that’s retarded.

But, it COULD have been awesome if…

I’m not a Debbie Downer…maybe a Derrick Downer, but I digress.  Losing 40,000 women a year to anything sucks.  So I’ll put my disdain for awareness campaigns in general to the side for a moment and find a way for this campaign to have ROCKED.  I truly believe that you shouldn’t lodge a complaint if you can’t find a solution, so here’s nothing.

This Is My Actual Nametag…No Foolies

1. Track the reach of the message (create a Facebook application)

If you’re gonna use Facebook, really USE Facebook.  If all you’ve got is manual status updates as your strategy, then you’re the equivalent of someone sitting at an accounting convention trying to calculate their taxes with an abacus.  Are you aware of what Facebook can do?  Let’s try this…

Create an application that automatically creates the “I like it…” portion of the message and let the ladies fill in the rest.  OR, have a list of maybe 10 places that tons of ladies choose (e.g. couch, door, coffee table, etc.)  Send this little application as an option to auto fill the status.  Some will use it, some won’t, but the win here is that you now have a list of active participants.  You actually know how far your message is travelling, and can relate it to an actual population.

Even better, your application can ask for access to key info like an email address, now you’ve built a list to actually market REAL breast cancer prevention information to after the meme is over.

2. Bring everyone back for a de-brief

Send a follow up message to let everyone know how the campaign did.  How many people were reached, and what they can do next to help the cause.  Specific links to self-breast examination and a search tool to find a local provider for regular mammograms would be a cool bonus.  Now you’re doing more than talking dirty, you’re saving breasts…and lives.

3. Don’t alienate those who MOST need to be aware

My previous argument against men having any involvement may have seemed temper-tantrummy, but there is a real reason guys need to know this stuff too.  It may seem crass, but guys like breasts, and to take it even further (earmuffs), guys feel breasts.  I could keep going, but you get the point.  You don’t think it would be cool if I knew how to check my partner for lumps?  Wouldn’t it be cool if you had two people doing regular checkups…even if one of them was just a pit stop on the way to a different destination?  All kidding aside, this disease is serious, and ladies should accept all the help that we can get.

4. Ask for the sale

Don’t be too caught up in your candy corn and pixie fairy world of “awareness” to forgetwhat the real solution is.  Sure racing for a cure, and getting meme-tastic are great ways to make you feel good, but this thing isn’t gonna be cracked by some folks running a 5K.  It’s only gonna be beaten by a real scientist in a lab.

My point is that this guy needs funding.  Buy him a Florence Flask, or a Centrifuge.  Donate some money so they can hire the new scientist who’s gonna make the mistake that leads to one of the greatest breakthroughs of our lifetime.  I’m just a douchebag with an opinionand a bag full of sarcasm, and awareness campaigns are mostly reasons for you to feel good.  Let’s get over both of ourselves and drop a couple of quarters off at your nearest research lab.  That’s definitely NOT retarded.

Final Thoughts

I wasn’t going to write this blog.  It wasn’t until commenters bullied Ben Parr of Mashable into retracting a single paragraph that literally spawned this entire post.  Shitty campaigns have marginalized real causes over and over.  It’s ok to criticize the campaign, that’s how we learn.  It’s how we get better.

Some of you will chide me saying, “It’s supposed to be FUN!  You’re overreacting”  I can assure you that I’m not.  If you only want to have fun, and get attention from boys (evidence below), then don’t attach a serious cause to it.  In the world of marketing, it’s a good idea to actually have a goal before you release a campaign.  The truth is that this is a silly unorganized campaign for attention, the foundation of awareness.  I’m just saying that that specific idea is retarded, when you can actually, you know, DO something too.

And for those final holdouts who think I’m full of it, here’s the official message sent around from girl to girl (or woman to woman).  You tell me what the real goal of the meme was.

Facebook Breast Cancer Meme Message

You go girl…

–@ElijahRYoung

Are you brimming over with anger?  Did your first reaction begin with, “How DARE he!”?  Well tell me how much of a douchebag I am in the comments section.

Did I nail it or did I NAIL it?  Do you agree with me?  Are just mad that you weren’t invited to the purse party?  Show your support for my Doctoral wit and middle school level execution in the comment section below.

Want to make it more personal?  Catch me in real time on Twitter!  @ElijahRYoung

Recent Posts