Irish Cancer Society say new ad campaign is deliberately provocative


The Irish Cancer Society says it doesn’t want to cause distress to those affected by cancer with its new publicity campaign but instead wants to drive home the message that getting cancer is hard-hitting and impactful.

The organisation has received complaints about the advertising campaign currently running on TV, print and online due to its slogan, ‘I want to get cancer’.

Responding to the criticism, the Irish Cancer Society’s head of communications, Gráinne O’Rourke, explained that the campaign aimed to encourage people to “understand” the illness rather than contract it.

She said:

“We spent two years in the planning for this.

“None of what has happened to date has been a surprise to us, we carefully thought this out.

“We’re not in the business of causing distress.

“We’ve designed this to be deliberately provocative so that it will have people sit up and listen and take cancer seriously.

“There is an epidemic which, in many instances, does not need to exist.

“Is it logical to say that the Irish Cancer Society wants people to get cancer?

“No, of course it isn’t. But what we do want is people to understand it so they can fight it.”

Ms O’Rourke said there had been some negative comments under one of the campaign videos posted on the society’s Facebook page, but the majority of the reaction had been supportive.

The campaign was developed with the marketing firm Chemistry, the charity have not said how much it cost to make.

Ms O’Rourke said that over 40% of cancer risk can be reduced by lifestyle changes and there is a good range of screening programmes that people do not avail of.

There are more than 150,000 cancer survivors in Ireland and that number is rising.

Six out of ten cancer patients will survive to five years or beyond, double the survival rate of 40 years ago.

Ms O’Rourke also said the advertisements aim to combat theories linking substances such as fluoride and the Gardasil cervical cancer vaccine with developing cancer.

“One of the key tenets of this campaign is to say to people:

“Wearing your bra too tight does not give you cancer; using deodorants does not give you cancer.”