A Lump Was Placed on ‘the World’s Most-Touched Breasts’ to See If Anyone Would Notice

Rothco made Dublin's Molly Malone a cancer awareness icon

Dublin's Molly Malone statue is touched on the bosom so often, it's become burnished. But would tourists notice a lump if they weren't looking for one? Rothco
Headshot of David Griner

Most awareness campaigns, as the name implies, are made to get attention. But here’s an interesting exception.

Irish agency Rothco and a local cancer advocacy nonprofit, the Marie Keating Foundation, subtly added a lump recently to one of the breasts on Dublin’s iconic Molly Malone statue, whose bronze bosom is burnished from frequent touching by tourists.

Despite quite a few visitors pausing to pose with the statue (an ode to the heroine of a song by the same name) while copping a feel, none noticed the addition to what the nonprofit describes on YouTube as “the world’s most-touched breasts.” But afterward, some were interviewed by the team behind the PSA, who told them what they missed.

“The first symptom of breast cancer in many women is a lump on their breast. Early detection can save lives as it can make the cancer easier to treat—but unfortunately, women still aren’t paying enough attention to their breasts,” says Kathy Troy, Rothco’s head of strategy.

“Breast Cancer Awareness Month is critically important in raising awareness, but we know sometimes the message to form the habit of checking yourself is lost in the sea of pink. We knew that to make people take notice was going to require a really simple idea to genuinely cut through. Using an iconic bust like Molly Malone seemed to be the perfect starting point to highlight how easy it is to miss something when you’re not looking for it.”

Stephen Rogers, creative director at Rothco, said the goal of the “Take Notice” project’s production was to make the lump as authentically subtle as possible, leading the team to turn to a visual effects pro.

“We were so lucky to get to work with an amazing team on this project,” Rogers says. “We knew there would be huge production challenges in creating and covertly attaching a lump to a bronze statue – especially one that has the amount of attention that Molly Malone has. We worked with the Emmy-nominated Joe Fallover, Ireland’s leading VFX specialist, to create, apply and bed in the lump.”

The creatives also reached out to Irish singer Imelda May, who agreed to record a new version of the song “Molly Malone,” which likely dates back to the 18th century.

Liz Yeates, CEO of the Marie Keating Foundation, noted that early detection is a core tenet of her organization’s mission, especially considering it could have saved the life of the charity’s namesake.

“This year we are marking 20 years fighting cancer following the passing of Marie Keating, another proud Dublin woman, from breast cancer 20 years ago,” Yeates says. “If Marie had been more aware of what to look out for and gone to her doctor sooner she would most likely still be alive today.”


Client: Marie Keating Foundation
Agency: Rothco | Accenture Interactive
Executive Creative Director: Alan Kelly
Creative Director: Stephen Rogers
Creative Team: Stephen Rogers & Anthony Ortuso
Head of Production: Margaret Levingstone
Head of Marketing: Jill Byrne
Project Director: Barbara-Ann Chaney
Agency Producer: Laura Cahill
Head of Strategy: Kathy Troy
Digital Strategy: Colm Cusack / Eadaoin Coyle
Design Director: Shane O’Riordan
VFX Specialist: Joe Fallover
Photographer: Chris Lindhorst
Music: Imelda May
Director of Photography: Burschi Wojnar

Post House: Screen Scene
Editor: Juniper Calder
Postproduction Supervisor: Anne-Marie Downs
Colorist: Donal O’Kane
Sound: Will Farrell

@griner david.griner@adweek.com David Griner is creative and innovation editor at Adweek and host of Adweek's podcast, "Yeah, That's Probably an Ad."