A Crucial Catch Campaign

By Sarah Garlick

For the past four years, the NFL has partnered with the American Cancer Society (ACS) in the fight against breast cancer. All women are at risk for breast cancer and the risk increases with age. Early detection is key for a better chance of survival. The NFL’s initiative “A Crucial Catch: Annual Screening Saves Lives” hopes to generate awareness in women over 40 of the importance of having annual mammograms.

Throughout October — which is officially breast cancer awareness month — players, coaches and referees will don pink apparel and pink ribbons will be featured on every field and game ball; cheerleaders will wave special pompoms and the goal post will be padded in pink.

Fans and other interested parties will have the opportunity to bid on autographed merchandise worn during games, as well as game balls and coins, at NFL Auction. All proceeds will be donated to the American Cancer Society, specifically its Community Health Advocates National Grants for Empowerment (CHANGE) program, which reaches out to women in areas without adequate facilities. Special pink merchandise, such as clothing, hats, jewelry and footballs can also be purchased directly at sites like NFL Shop and Nike.

NFL.com has a section of its website dedicated to its campaign, with a link to schedule mammograms and a link to sign up for a toolkit for elementary and high schools interested in contributing to the cause. The toolkit provides suggestions and advice for how to raise funds to support the campaign. The site also features videos from prominent NFL athletes like Drew Brees and Larry Fitzgerald spreading the message about breast cancer. Brees’ mentions in his video that one in two newly diagnosed women turns to the American Cancer Society for support and this is why the NFL’s work with the ACA is so important.

Some teams around the league are making an extra effort for the campaign. The Indianapolis Colts are working with city officials to turn the canal that runs through downtown pink for the month of October, and the Houston Texans will hold their annual “Texans Tickled Pink Spa Day” for women undergoing breast cancer treatment can enjoy lunch and spa services. Many other teams have planned halftime tributes for breast cancer survivors.

NFL sponsors such as Tide and Pepsi will also incorporate the campaign’s message into their advertising. Gatorade will sell special edition bottles of its 32oz. G Series Thirst Quencher at Kroger stores through October 12. Ticketmaster will donate 10 cents for every NFL ticket sold during the month of October, as well as print pink tickets.

According to last year’s statistics, A Crucial Catch campaign reached more than 151 million viewers, and 58 million of these were women 18 and older. The NFL believes its message is being heard, reporting that 64% of female fans and 61% of all fans realize the importance of annual screenings.

The NFL’s A Crucial Catch campaign is relatively young, but it has the potential to have some real, lasting impact with how many people it reaches through NFL programming and NFL advertisers. It will be interesting to see data in the years to come if the campaign has directly influenced women to sign up for yearly mammograms.

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