The American Cancer Society (ACS), one of the nation’s largest and best-known nonprofit organizations, launched their first cause branding platform, Choose You, in May of 2010. ACS wanted to make a significant impact in the fight against cancer in an innovative and ownable way, while engaging a new generation of supporters to join and help lead the effort. The platform was created through collaboration between Cone and ACS, and the program was built to have a significant digital component. Within the program’s core goals and mission was the desire to reach women where they are, so having a robust online presence for the program was a key part of the program from the beginning.
Cone and ACS began by reviewing hundreds of research reports and statistics, and conducting extensive interviews with health and industry experts. Through this process, two key statistics were uncovered:
• One in three women will get cancer in her lifetime
• About half of all cancer deaths could be prevented through healthy lifestyle behaviors like maintaining a healthy weight through diet and exercise, not smoking and getting regular cancer screenings
It became immediately clear that there was a critical need for ACS to lead women in being proactive, instead of reactive when it came to fighting cancer. Cone and ACS used these insights to create Choose You, a dynamic national movement inspiring women to make healthy lifestyle choices to stay well and help prevent cancer. The challenge was not only to raise awareness, but to turn that awareness into preventative action. Cone and ACS decided there was both a need to further educate women about cancer prevention, as well as to provide women with the tools to make a long-term behavior change towards a healthier lifestyle.
• Own the prevention space among women 25-54 through the concept of personal sustainability
o Raise awareness of incidence of cancer among women and the behaviors that can help prevent cancer
o Help increase ACS’ brand relevance and affinity among consumers
• Acknowledge corporate sponsor role in bringing the program to life
Cone and ACS conducted extensive research and analysis to determine the appropriate audience for Choose You. This included analyzing consumer trends, conducting interviews with potential sponsors and fielding multiple rounds of consumer market research. Based on these findings, women 25 to 54 were identified as the optimal target audience for the Choose You message.
While ACS has long been known for their world-class cancer research and treatment work, the idea of making cancer prevention tangible for consumers has always been difficult. Since the focus of Choose You is cancer prevention, Cone’s largest challenge was making the idea of prevention and behavior change accessible to people from all walks of life. Cone considered this and carefully chose the strategy of pioneering technology to help make behavior change possible.
Cone worked with technology start-up stickK.com to create a proprietary version of their online tool, dubbed the “Choose You Commitment.” The Choose You Commitment tool allows users to set their personal health goal where they can check in each week to report on their progress. Consumers are allowed to choose Commitments from five areas of behavior change that research shows are linked to cancer prevention (Eating Right, Getting Active, Quitting Smoking, Getting Regular Health Checks and Protecting Skin). The Choose You Commitment allows users to put up monetary stakes for their commitment and to also ask supporters to give financially. stickK’s behavioral economics research shows that both stakes and supporters increase the likelihood that a user will be successful in completing their commitment. The program is also set up to help raise funds for ACS – if a user puts up monetary stake and meets their goal, they get to keep their stakes, but their supporter’s stakes are automatically donated to ACS. If the user doesn’t meet the goal, their stakes go to ACS and their supporters pay nothing. The structure has proved to be a fun and effective way to promote behavior change while also raising funds for ACS.
While the Choose You Commitment was the most complex portion of the online components of Choose You, the other online elements were also planned out far in advance. Cone, ACS and Web developers 89 Degrees worked closely together to create the structure of the Web site, select appropriate content for the site and strategize how to successfully use social media to advance the Choose You message and mission.
• Provide valuable information and revolutionary support tools to help women build new healthy habits
• Create awareness that women can fight cancer through healthy behaviors
• Make the program – through the site and its’ social media entities -- relevant to issues on women’s minds, to help increase ACS’ brand relevance and affinity among consumers
• Provide a venue for promotions and direct contact to women involved in the Choose You movement (share corporate sponsor involvement, special offers, breaking news, contests, success stories, etc.)
• Build community of women who are changing the “care for everyone but me” paradigm
Choose You officially launched in May 2010 during two days of media and consumer events in New York City. Approximately ten days prior to the launch, the Choose You blog went live on ChooseYou.com to provide a point of engagement and context for people hearing buzz about the movement prior to launch. The online elements of Choose You included the following:
• ChooseYou.com: program Web site with ability to easily update and customize content for different pulse periods throughout the year. Initial features included our celebrity ambassador, Ellen Pompeo and details about getting involved with the Choose You Commitment and Choose You Day. Current feature ties Choose You to Breast Cancer Awareness Month and getting a mammogram. http://www.chooseyou.com/default.aspx
• Tools and Content: dozens of consumer-friendly articles and interactive tools to help women meet their health goals. Summary page of all articles and tools accessible at http://www.chooseyou.com/Resources.aspx.
• The Choose You Commitment: a private-label version of a proprietary software that allows users to make health goals and stick to them. http://www.chooseyou.com/Make-A-Commitment.aspx
• The Choose You blog: written by women in our target demographic that are making the same kinds of commitments and life choices that Choose You encourages all women to make. http://blog.chooseyou.com/
• Social Media: active Facebook and Twitter presences to reach and engage women where they are every day. Each profile has multiple daily posts, including sharing news and content, starting conversations and providing encouragement for women’s commitments.
o Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/chooseyou
o Twitter: http://twitter.com/acschooseyou
• Cause commerce store: allows participants to buy Choose You gear to show their commitment to the program. The store was built in conjunction with a redesign of the entire ACS Cause Commerce experience. http://www.acsgiftshop.com/default.aspx?showpage=4
• Event search tool: an integrated calendar and event search tool that displays ACS prevention-related events (e.g., awareness walks and endurance events), sponsor events and other ways to get involved with the movement locally. http://www.chooseyou.com/Events.aspx
• Monthly e-newsletter: all registrants receive a monthly e-newsletter from Choose You that shares prevention-related news and content, individual success stories and ideas for healthy living:
o November 2010: e-newsletter example: http://bit.ly/dZpOQg
Evaluation of success/measurement
Just five months after launch, Choose You has reached the following milestones related to its online presence:
• Site visits: 170,000+
• Registrants: 52,000+ (CONFIDENTIAL)
• Choose You Commitments: 5,500+ (CONFIDENTIAL)
• Facebook likes: 7,000+
• Twitter followers: 800+
• Choose You blog statistics: 88 posts, 7 authors, 300+ comments
Vendors involved in campaign
The following vendors also played a key role in helping bring Choose You to life online:
• 89 Degrees: Web development vendor that built the Choose You Web site and registration process. Site was created with heavy guidance from Cone and ACS, but architected, coded and built by 89 Degrees.
• stickK .com: Strategic partner that built the Choose You Commitment as a customized version of their proprietary technology. Cone identified technology start-up stickK and collaborated with them to build a customized version of their online behavior change tool, and integrate a customized version into ChooseYou.com.
• Relay Gear: Managed creation of online cause commerce store.