More than 180,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer each year, and those diagnosed say that hearing the news is a tremendous shock.  As one survivor reports, “Our brain goes numb, and, in a split second, we feel as if our life is completely out of control.” Experts report that a woman’s partner plays a critical role in dealing with the disease.  Publicis Dialog and Boasberg Wheeler created the “Speak Out” program to provide couples coping with breast cancer informative resources that serve as a catalyst for communication.  The results of this campaign are best measured in the more than 50,000 families who requested materials on transitioning from breast cancer victim to breast cancer survivor.    


Samsung is a leading manufacturer of wireless phones.  To encourage early breast cancer detection and to fulfill some of the unmet needs of newly diagnosed women, Publicis Dialog worked with Samsung to design a national community relations initiative, “Speak Out for Breast Cancer Awareness,” to be executed in October 2000.  Organizations and individuals who regularly interacted with the newly diagnosed and their families had identified these unmet needs.  Breast cancer was chosen as a focus because the age of at-risk women closely parallels Samsung’s target market. In 2000, as in the first two years of the program, Samsung and Publicis Dialog partnered with Samsung’s largest customer, Sprint PCS and their agency of record, Boasberg Wheeler, to concept and execute a new version of the program.  


Research would again be a critical step.  The agencies sought to provide resources that are valuable to newly diagnosed women while differentiating this year’s efforts from previous years and to develop a unique position for this program, compared to those of other corporate sponsors.  

First, we identified basic breast cancer information, especially the often-overlooked three steps to early detection (see binder for more information).  Studies show that early detection normally translates into a high rate of survival among breast cancer patients, so we determined this should be a key part of our efforts.

Next, we looked into respected third-party organizations.  We identified the Susan G. Komen Foundation and The Johns Hopkins Breast Center as two key organizations (see binder for information).  These experts have documented the important role a partner can play in a successful breast cancer treatment and recovery process, although communication is often difficult during this stressful period.  The experts stressed the need for effective tools to help couples cope with real-life issues that need to be discussed – including treatment options, finances, spirituality and sexuality – to help them give each other the strength and support along each step of the journey.

We also determined that we could take advantage of the widespread presence of Samsung/Sprint PCS in many local markets – to team with local breast cancer organizations, to offer a convenient location where people could easily pick up the campaign resources and to participate in local special events.  Another area that required research was the appropriate vehicles to appeal to couples, especially to men who might have a difficult time expressing themselves to their partners.


During the planning phase, we considered several criteria for the “Speak Out” program.  It must:

Be national in scope, with applications for local Samsung and Sprint PCS markets

Be highly creative and personalize the message – both for increasing awareness of the need for early detection and for offering a solution to a specific unmet need of women newly diagnosed with breast cancer

Result in direct action from the target audience, as specified in Objectives, below.

Create a positive image of the companies; showcase Samsung/Sprint PCS products and services; offer sell-through opportunities; and encourage customers to support the “Speak Out” efforts.

Objectives.  Based on these criteria, we developed the following objectives:

Encourage at least 180,000 individuals to contact others, urging them to take the steps for early detection.

Encourage at least 50,000 newly diagnosed women or their partners to order copies of support resources.

Increase measurable awareness among customers and potential customers about the commitment of Samsung/Sprint PCS to this cause, from previous year’s level of 18 percent of customers.

Audiences. The target audiences for the “Speak Out” program included:

Women between the ages of 25-45 and their husbands/partners; these women are in the age group that is most at risk for breast cancer and are also key purchasers of wireless phones

Customers and potential customers in key Samsung and Sprint PCS markets – cities with the largest potential customer base for these two companies


The following strategies were developed for the “Speak Out” campaign:

Identify and recruit a spokesperson or spokespersons that could attract the attention of both national and local media while offering a credible role model for couples in which the woman was newly diagnosed with breast cancer

Partner with influential third-party organizations to lend credibility to the campaign

Develop a resource kit that would help encourage communications by the couple 

Identify breast cancer survivor couples in key Samsung/Sprint PCS markets to share their stories in the resource kit, as well as participate in national and local media and promotional activities – and call them “Ambassadors”

Create a series of high-profile, yet grassroots, events (one on a national level, others in 25 key markets) that increase awareness, involve the breast cancer survivor couples, and showcase Samsung/Sprint PCS products and services

Make a donation to the leading breast cancer foundation for research efforts

Support the efforts with a national media relations program


Publicis Dialog and Boasberg Wheeler executed the strategy by implementing the following tactics:

Spokesperson.  Recruited Stefanie and Chris Spielman.  When Stefanie was diagnosed with breast cancer, Chris resigned from professional football to devote himself to Stefanie’s treatment and recovery efforts.  They enabled us to reach both women and men with a credible message of communication and hope.  We teamed the Spielmans with Lillie Shockney, a breast cancer survivor and the education and outreach director of Johns Hopkins Breast Center.

Resource Kit.  Developed a resource kit to encourage couples to communicate about difficult issues that take on special meaning when a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer.  The kit, Journey of Hope:  Couples Speak Out About Breast Cancer, included a workbook and a video, and was published in English and Spanish.  It was made available for free via a toll-free number, through local breast cancer organizations and at local Sprint PCS stores.

Local Breast Cancer “Ambassadors.” Worked with breast cancer organizations in local markets to select 50 couples as Breast Cancer “Ambassadors.” The couples were featured in numerous activities (see binder for more information).

Breast Cancer Awareness Summit. Ambassadors, Chris and Stefanie Spielman, the companies and their agencies gathered in New York City on October 2.

The “Call Day” Events. “Call Day” events urged ordinary people to call loved ones and encourage them to follow the early detection steps.  The kick-off was Oct. 4 in New York City’s Bryant Park. The Spielmans, Shockney, the Ambassadors, celebrities and others encouraged pedestrians to use the Samsung wireless phones/Sprint PCS technology available at the event to call and remind a loved one to follow the three steps to early detection.

Throughout the month of October, “Call Day” was conducted in 25 local Samsung/Sprint PCS markets and the resource kit was available at Sprint PCS stores.

Pre-paid phone cards were distributed to all employees of Samsung, Sprint PCS, Publicis and Boasberg Wheeler.  A flyer explained the program, and each employee was encouraged to use the phone card to spread the early detection message.

Donation. Samsung and Sprint PCS donated $500,000 to the Susan G. Komen Foundation to support breast cancer research and treatment.

Media Relations.  Media relations efforts included:

Distributing press materials to national and local media during the first week in September

Conducting Satellite Television Tour on October 4

Facilitating Morning Drive Radio Tour on October 5

Continuing local “Call Day” activities and local media interviews throughout October

Promotional Support.  Promotional Support included:

Inserts in Sprint PCS billing statements

POP displays in Sprint PCS stores

Obstacles.  Obstacles that we overcame successfully included (see binder for more information):

Concepting and implementing a highly aggressive, multi-faceted campaign in a short time frame (less than six months)

Forging a team consisting of two agencies, two companies and third-party organizations – and maintaining the goals, objectives and visibility of each

Determining the elements for the resource kit that would appeal to both women and men

Producing the resource kit – including translation into Spanish – in the timeframe allowed

Competing with numerous other breast cancer programs during this time frame


The 2000 “Speak Out” campaign was a huge success exceeding our goals in the following areas:

Encouraged Others to Take Steps to Early Detection –More than 180,000 potential Samsung/Sprint PCS customers placed calls during the Call Day program, exceeding our goal of 180,000 calls.  During the first three hours of the New York City “Call Day,” more than 2,000 pedestrians stopped to place calls to loved ones to discuss the three steps to early detection – using Samsung wireless phones and Sprint PCS technology. 

Generated Requests for Resources – The program resulted in more than 50,000 requests for the Journey of Hope:  Couples Speak Out About Breast Cancer resource kit.  Requests are received via the 1-800 number promoted in the media as well as through breast cancer organizations and from visits to Sprint PCS stores.

Increased Measurable Awareness – Samsung/Sprint PCS customer awareness of the program increased.

Based on a survey conducted among 1000 Sprint PCS customers after the end of the 2000 “Speak Out” campaign, over 25 percent were aware of the program – a seven percent increase over those surveyed prior to the campaign 

Generated Valuable Visibility for the Client – The program was national in scope, with applications for local Samsung/Sprint PCS markets. Media coverage included USA Today (twice), Ladies Home Journal, The Today Show, The Rosie O’Donnell Show, The Early Show, Lifetime Live, more than 75 local newspapers, and more than 300 local television and radio stations, with more than 89 million impressions.  

Over 180,000 people used Samsung wireless phones and Sprint PCS technology to place calls during “Call Day” activities, which created hands-on awareness of these products and services 
Samsung and Sprint PCS stand strong to their commitment to raise awareness among those most affected by the disease and to offer these individuals resources that open the lines of communication.  With these goals in mind, thousands of families affected by breast cancer are better able to openly and informatively communicate with one another.