Ad of the Week – Race For Life

by Stratton Craig

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Some people don’t like Marmite. Others are definitely not fans of olives, or cold weather, or of the person in the queue behind them resting a newspaper on their head. Maybe that only happens to me.
Cancer Research UK works to combat the one thing we’re confident everyone agrees on – that we all hate cancer. The charity has recently been taking a very aggressive, confrontational tactic in their campaigning to promote the annual Race For Life – treating cancer as a bully and proclaiming: “We’re coming to get you.” For this year’s race, the tone of voice continues across outdoor media with the poster ad.
It’s perfect for the Tube, and for London public transport in general, as complaints about noise and people getting stuck in the doors are all too common. The ad effectively picks up on everyday annoyances to put cancer into a very real context that really hits home.
The best ads provoke a strong reaction, and this short paragraph inspires an unusual amount of simmering rage. Campaigns to raise awareness and funds for potentially terminal illnesses do tend to take the ‘softly, softly’ approach and avoid upsetting people. The tone is often more sensitive, calmer and more subtle, with gentle language that sometimes seems to skirt around the actual issue. The way that Cancer Research tackles the subject head-on is certainly unique, gaining its effectiveness from directly encouraging a reaction from readers.
I also think the fact that I’ve been personally affected by cancer affected my response to this ad. As more and more people and lives are impacted by diagnoses every day, this campaign can only get a stronger response from the public.
I do have one constructive criticism to make. The pedant in me believes that this ad is missing at least one comma and possibly two. That “Guess what cancer?” line should have one following ‘what’, otherwise it sounds a bit like a multiple choice game, and the penultimate line could use an Oxford comma in case that last part of the sentence becomes a bit ambiguous.
If you see some clever copywriting on your commute, tell us about it and we might make it our next Ad of the Week. Tweet your suggestions @strattoncraig or leave us a comment below.

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