Seriously funny

A feature on savvy non-profit marketers wouldn't be complete without mentioning one of the sector's branding pioneers: Rethink Breast Cancer's director of marketing and communications Alison Gordon.

A feature on savvy non-profit marketers wouldn’t be complete without mentioning one of the sector’s branding pioneers: Rethink Breast Cancer’s director of marketing and communications Alison Gordon.

‘She’s played a major role in making sure that everything Rethink does has a brand,’ says the organization’s executive director MJ DeCoteau. She and Gordon launched Rethink in 2001, before most non-profits caught on to the importance of branding, marketing and corporate partnerships.

Gordon, 32, came to Rethink from the agency world. She did a brief stint at Taxi, and later served as a strategic planner at Zig, where she worked on the award-winning PSA ‘Cam Test’ for the Breast Cancer Society. The spot used humour, not fear, to promote breast cancer awareness. Gordon met DeCoteau while working on the spot – the latter worked for the client at the time.

The two were floored by the amount of positive feedback the spot received. ‘Using humour really changed the landscape,’ Gordon recalls. They realized there was a need for a new approach to raising awareness, and decided to develop their own charity that would target a younger demographic: 25-40.

With limited funds, Gordon decided reasonably priced, hip, urban events would be a good focal point. Their first event, in 2001, raked in $40,000. Gordon expects to double that at this year’s June gala, which will have a burlesque theme, to be held in Toronto at trendy C-Lounge. The event will also be organized in Vancouver and Calgary.

Gordon also understands the importance of going beyond title sponsorship for her events. Last year’s gala featured a Bollywood theme. Guests could visit sponsor Red Earth’s cosmetic stores to have theme-related makeup applied for free. At the event, six Red Earth makeup artists were on hand in the bathroom for touch-ups.

Gordon is currently gearing up for Rethink’s annual Fashion Targets Breast Cancer campaign, which launches in May. Roots will sell Target

T-shirts across the country, and, for the third year in a row, Rethink will run Fashion Targets Friday. Volunteers can sell shirts to co-workers, and encourage people to wear them on May 27. Last year, 75 companies participated. Gordon’s income target for the campaign this year

is $175,000.