The Lump: Cancer Research UK Campaign 2015

“Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” Sun Tzu, the Art of War.

I searched the depths of the internet for a great public relations campaign, and came up with a public relations stunt that was done in the UK during 2015 for Cancer Research UK.  Here it is below:

Give it a watch! I think that what makes this campaign amazing is that it was done without words.  It is entirely strategy and tactics in action.  In the video, Cancer Research UK staged a public relations stunt.  They found a busy street, and made a slowly growing lump in the pavement.  Surprisingly, people ignored it and did not question it, even when it became a massive bump!  This campaign communicated how  easy it is to ignore your health until it it too late.  It reminds people of the importance of taking care of their health, particularly when it comes to cancer, since some types of cancer are survivable if detected early.

I think that this campaign speaks to the fact that people too often ignore the signs due to fear.  Instead they hope that the bad thing will just go away.  Unfortunately, this sometimes prevents them from getting a troubling lump checked out, or they neglect checking for troubling lumps in the first place, in case one appears.  This campaign communicates the importance of taking care of your health by being aware of the early signs of cancer, even when it is scary.  It also reminds people of the possibility of donating money to cancer research, and brings awareness to their organization as well as the general issue of cancer and cancer research.

How did they do it? Strategies and Tactics!

When public relations professionals create campaigns, they use strategies and tactics.  Strategies are your ‘big ideas’.  A strategy is the  problem that you are trying to solve, or the thing that you are trying to accomplish.   A tactic is a plan for exactly how you are going to carry out your idea, or how you are going to solve your problem.

I think that the strategy for the Cancer Research UK campaign, was to make people more aware of their own organization, to make people more aware of cancer in general, and to remind people to be proactive about checking for early signs of cancer.  I think the campaign succeeded because it made it obvious how easy it is to ignore a lump! The tactic was to communicate this strategy using a public relations stunt.  The professionals behind this campaign created a growing lump in the middle of the pavement on a busy street in the UK to see how people would respond.  Amazingly, people did not notice the lump until it grew into a big bump!

No one likes paying attention to lumps because potentially cancerous lumps are scary, and we would rather pretend that they don’t exist.  Don’t forget to check!


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