In 1992, Evelyn Lauder distributed the first pink ribbons at Estée Lauder makeup counters in New York City to give women the courage to talk about a deadly form of cancer that was killing 44,000 women in the U.S. every year. The senior corporate vice president passed away in 2011. Today, her pink ribbon has gone digital, appearing on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Viddy, where supporters all over the world are turning the internet pink to raise awareness — and money — in order to find a cure.
Now in its twentieth year, the ELC Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign has really put its money where its lipstick is, raising more than $35 million to fund 140 Breast Cancer Research Foundation grants in more than 70 countries, supporting 12 research grants just in the last year. This year the campaign will donate $1 — up to $25,000 — to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation for every post that’s shared on the “20 Years of Courage” Facebook timeline through the month of October.
“Social media was made for social causes,” explained Marisa Thalberg, VP of global corporate digital marketing at the Estée Lauder Companies. Evelyn Lauder’s original collaborators at Self, as well as Self.com, AOL and celebrities including Elizabeth Hurley have partnered with the cosmetics company on an interactive digital campaign to get people talking about breast cancer.
At the center of the campaign is a Facebook page that celebrates important milestones in education and medical research while encouraging breast cancer survivors to share their stories of courage. Everything marked with the hashtag #BCA20 from Viddy, Instagram, and Twitter will make it onto the Facebook page via FeedMagnet’s social aggregation system.
Supported by 10 ELC brands in more than 30 countries, the campaign will also reach parts of the world where women don’t speak as freely about personal issues like breast health. In China, people can share general stories of courage through a dedicated campaign on Sina Weibo, a Chinese microblogging site; and Tuding, which is China’s Instagram.
Personal photographs have long been a highlight of the awareness campaign, which cause supporters can now share on Instagram. Even with “bald heads from chemo,” Thalberg said, the women who have submitted pictures through the years have always appeared “absolutely confident, with defiant smiles on their faces.”
Viddy, a video enhancement and sharing site, has also created a special pink light filter for making videos, like a pair of rose-colored glasses or a subtle reminder to “think pink.”
The visual effects are a fitting tribute to Evelyn Lauder. Said Thalberg, “She found so much inspiration through pictures.”
Added Estée Lauder executive chairman William P. Lauder, “My mother would be overcome with appreciation as we further The BCA Campaign’s mission of bringing worldwide attention to breast health and early detection through this groundbreaking interactive digital campaign. Twenty years ago, breast cancer was only spoken about in whispers, and today, social media allows millions to be instantly informed and educated with this critical, life-saving message.”