'Too clever by half': Irish Cancer Society's 'Get Cancer' campaign is a 'missed opportunity'
The campaign has quickly become a talking point
Ex RTE broadcaster Michael Murphy has criticised the latest Irish Cancer Society ad campaign as “too clever by half” which has lead to a “missed opportunity”.
Mr Murphy, who survived prostate cancer and was one of the first high profile personalities to discuss cancer publicly, said the problem with the ad is that people are not talking about the message but about the ad itself.
The tag-line of the ad is ‘I want to get cancer’ and in the broadcast version several people can be heard repeating the line.
It is a play on words designed to refer to the need to understand or ‘get’ cancer. It also refers to the desire to ‘get’ cancer or stamp it out.
The Irish Cancer Society has defended the controversial ad and has said the ad is “deliberately provocative”.
The charity has had complaints about the ad but Communications Manager, Grainne O’Rourke, said the charity has a “duty of care to the Irish public to say ‘get informed about the disease’”.
“We want people to understand cancer,” she said.
“In the common parlance we say ‘I get it’ all the time, meaning we understand it."
The charity chief told RTE’s morning Ireland that the campaign was borne out of concern about projections that by the year 2020 1 in 2 people will be diagnosed with a cancer.
“It’s deliberately provocative because it has to be. It’s hard hitting, it’s impactful because getting cancer is hard-hitting and impactful,” she said.
However, Mr Murphy said, having looked at the ads, he fears the message has been lost.
“We are talking about the transmission of the ad and not the message,” he told Independent.ie
“It’s too clever by half for a start and the voice-over is utterly wrong.”
There wasn’t a correct emphasis or tone used which would imply the various meanings of the phrase ‘I want to get cancer’ he said.
“People don’t have time to puzzle over the meaning [of adverts],” he said.
“The Irish Cancer Society message coming out is that they are promoting cancer, that seems to be the message” he added.
“Maybe I’m being too harsh but purely from a communications point of view I don’t think it works.”
The campaign has also sparked debate online, with some people showing support for the campaign.
@IrishCancerSoc Great ad. I can understand why some find it inappropriate...as a cancer survivor I think it's an excellent piece. Well done!— David Wilkins (@dpwilkins) January 5, 2017
Personally find the @IrishCancerSoc ad provocative in a good way. Hope it does what they intended, especially as it is causing distress.— Niamh Hayes (@niamhvus) January 4, 2017