Cancer Charity Raises Over 300% of Goal Just by Sending Brad Pitt an Open Letter

A letter to Brad PittCelebrity endorsements are the bread and butter of no-brainer marketing–whether an organization is trying to sell sneakers or stop poverty, a famous face’s stamp of approval can go a long way to getting the public to do, buy, or donate to something. But what’s a small charity to do when they want the power of a major endorsement, but haven’t the money or clout to get it?

They get creative.

A fundraising move by Stop Darmkanker, a Belgian nonprofit dedicated to ending colon cancer, has both proven the power of celebrity (even when that celebrity isn’t actually involved) and finally answered old Will’s famous question, “What’s in a name?”

If that name happens to be “Brad Pitt,” the answer is: the ability to help an organization you’re not even involved with meet its fundraising goal…and then triple it. 314%, to be exact. 

Pitt recently turned 50, and Stop Darmkanker celebrated by sending him a letter reminding him that while he may look damn good for 50 (okay, my words, not theirs), he’s still his age, which puts him, like millions of people in his generation, at greater risk of colon cancer. The letter, which was sent to 10 of Pitt’s addresses and went viral after being posted online, read in part:

Congratulations on your 50th birthday on December 18th. We’ve taken the liberty to write you because we want you to save your life. You might not know it, but from the age of 50 you have a real risk for colon cancer. The good news is that it is very easy to save yourself from colon cancer, with a simple test you can do yourself, at home.

We’ve included a test in this letter. It’s very simple to do it in your bathroom. When you have done it, please tell the world about it and save thousands of lives. Just like your wife did.

We assume the “just like your wife did” part refers to Angelina Jolie’s highly publicized double mastectomy, which she underwent after learning she was at high risk of breast cancer. So, the letter manages to employ self-preservation, social service and spousal leverage all, in one package.

Does the campaign use Pitt’s likeness without his permission? Yes. Can we technically endorse that? We suppose not. But it’s such a good cause, we can hardly imagine Mr. Pitt bringing legal action against the organization…even if it does talk about his fecal matter in public.