Breast Cancer Society builds on its multicultural outreach

The non-profit looks to maintain its momentum with diverse communities ahead of its Mother's Day Walk.



The Breast Cancer Society of Canada is continuing to make outreach to Chinese and Punjabi communities a major part of its national communications strategy leading up to one of its major annual fundraisers.

Ahead of its annual Mother’s Day Walk this year, the charity, which funds breast cancer research, is looking to continue to boost the diversity of its participants, as well as awareness and recognition more broadly. Its messaging, which features survivors from a range of different ethnic communities, reiterates the organization’s commitment to breast cancer research, specifically, with versions of the tagline, “research saves lives, ask any breast cancer survivor.” This research-focused messaging is part of long-standing goal to differentiate the Breast Cancer Society from other groups that handle other elements of cancer support and care.

Neil Wiernik, director of marketing and communications for the Breast Cancer Society of Canada, tells strategy that one of the goals it had was to make sure its marketing speaks to everyone, as breast cancer doesn’t just effect one ethnic group. It’s a mission the organization began last year.

“We were speaking to a few different agencies,” Wiernik says. “But Peter Cooke from Old Ad Guys stepped forward and presented something that really clicked when it came to rebranding and through the process, I came to discover he was connected to [multicultural agency] Monsoon.”

Soon after the 2019 Mother’s Day Walk, which saw a significant uptick in people of colour taking part in the Walk, the senior management sat down with its two agency partners, Monsoon Communications and Old Ad Guys, to map out a national communications strategy that would continue its progress for the next couple of years.

Wiernik says Punjabi and Chinese language creative assets in the campaign for this year’s walk are split roughly 50/50 with English language creative assets.

“The idea is to ramp it up beyond these two languages, eventually,” Wiernik says, noting that multicultural radio creative also resonates with its diverse audience. Outside of Monsoon, Wiernik says the organization is also reaching out to Indigenous communities through Windspeaker Radio to promote “Dress for the Cause,” its annual October fundraiser.

Wiernik says Canadians from all different multicultural groups want to support fundraising and supporting breast cancer research, so another one of the Breast Cancer Soceity’s objectives is simply driving greater awareness and recognition to get those groups to participate. He says it also continues to fight against the public misconception that the Breast Cancer Society of Canada is affiliated with the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, the Canadian Cancer Society, and even related American organizations.

This year’s fully integrated campaign comprises print, TV, radio, social and OOH and broke in late December. The campaign is running through January and will commence once again prior to the Mother’s Day Walk for Breast Cancer in the spring of 2020.