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Facebook’s bra colours for breast cancer campaign

2 min read

Female users were sent private messages to update their Facebook status with the colour of their bra, in a message that read, “Some fun is going on…just write the color of your bra in your status. Just the color, nothing else. It will be neat to see if this will spread the wings of breast cancer awareness. It will be fun to see how long it takes before people wonder why all the girls have a color in their status Haha.”

The message was un-attributable to a specific organisation, which is part of its appeal as a viral marketing tool. Viral campaigns are based on word of mouth distribution amongst fans. Part of their appeal is that they are not branded, nor do they have an overt or often clunky marketing message. Instead, they aim to engage fans through their quirkiness or their unique manner of telling a story. In addition, this campaign could be said to be particularly successful because it asked for a call to action from fans.

“Generally for a viral campaign to be successful it needs to be very subtly branded, as the online community are pretty wary of being marketed to, so from a brand recognition point of view you don’t really get the visibility through this type of activity,” said Nicole Lovelock from the National Breast Cancer Foundation (NBCF), in response to the viral campaign.

At NBCF, however, they have no idea as to where the campaign came from, or as to who started it. “No we haven’t heard where it started, but it doesn’t seem linked back to any particular organisation – it may have just started as a fun thing and because of the bra mention, been linked back to breast cancer.”

Without being directly attributed to breast cancer, it could be asked what the benefits of such a campaign are. Is it really nothing more than a crass attempt to get attention, or one of the latest quizzes or applications sprouted by Facebook?

Lovelock says anything that gets a dialogue about breast cancer research and awareness going is worthwhile.

“It gets people talking and puts it on the agenda for a short time.

“At NBCF we definitely see the benefits of harnessing social media to promote our research message and fundraising campaigns, with over 10,000 Facebook fans and close to 1,000 Twitter followers, and we use these mediums regularly to communicate with our supporters.”

But does it get people to donate or volunteer?

“That would be the preferred outcome as opposed to ‘awareness’ – most people are aware of breast cancer – our goal is to generate sustained engagement with the community to continue funding for research which will ultimately help to save women’s lives.”

Lovelock reports, however, that since 7 January, when the campaign first started, they have attracted an extra 230 Facebook fans. Of particular note was the spike in web traffic on 8 January, with 170 additional click throughs from the NBCF Facebook page to their website.

While there were no donations made via the Facebook page during that period, Lovelock comments, “I would have to say yes, it has had a flow on effect.”

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