American Marketer

Fragrance and personal care

Estée Lauder builds breast cancer awareness with multichannel effort

October 2, 2018

Estée Lauder is looking to end breast cancer. Image credit: Estée Lauder


Beauty group Estée Lauder Companies is centering its latest push in the fight against breast cancer on a significant statistic, looking to build a sense of urgency around the cause.

In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the company's brands are joining forces on a campaign that will span social media, out-of-home displays and in-store activations, telling consumers it is #TimeToEndBreastCancer. Rather than simply starting a conversation around the topic, Estée Lauder’s campaign aims to inspire consumer actions towards eradicating the disease.

"This year’s concept for The Estée Lauder Companies’ Breast Cancer Campaign is that it’s 'Time to End Breast Cancer,'" said Bari Seiden-Young, vice president of global corporate communications at The Estée Lauder Companies, Inc., New York. "Now in the 26th year of the campaign, we wanted to create urgency with a universal call to action, and use #TimeToEndBreastCancer as our rallying cry.

"For those who are diagnosed with the disease, the concept of time takes on an entirely different meaning," she said. "Time goes from something which may be taken for granted, to something that stops at a moment like when a diagnosis is received, or is deeply cherished from that moment on.

"Time is a universal concept we all understand, and is so precious, especially those with breast cancer."

Awareness to action

Estée Lauder’s campaign focuses on the fact that a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer every 19 seconds. A video series titled “Seconds Matter” portrays the experiences of these women, with narration by actress and global ambassador Elizabeth Hurley.

In an introduction film, women are shown going through life events big and small. One character is seen trying on a wedding dress, while another is shown watching her daughter blow out candles on a birthday cake.

Other shots show families seated around the dinner table or together on a couch.

After introducing these women, the film changes pace as an IV drip is shown. Ms. Hurley explains that “seconds matter,” pointing to the 19 seconds statistic before saying that it is time to end breast cancer.

The video and a corresponding social media campaign encourage consumers to post why they believe it is #TimeToEndBreastCancer. From Oct. 1 through 31, the company will donate $25 for every Instagram post that includes that hashtag as well as #ELCdonates, funding a half hour of research.

Through this social media effort, Estée Lauder will give up to $26,000 to the cause, part of the company's goal of raising a total $8 million this year.

In addition to the video campaign, Estée Lauder will be spreading its message through out-of-home pink takeovers of landmarks such as New York’s Empire State Building and Paris’ Eiffel Tower.

The Eiffel Tower lit up in pink. Image credit: Estée Lauder Companies

The company is also extending the campaign to its brand counters, providing brochures and pink ribbons to customers. Estée Lauder’s 46,000 employees will also get involved, as will 18 of its brands including Estée Lauder, Aerin Beauty, La Mer, Tom Ford Beauty and Donna Karan.

Participating labels will create pink ribbon products or will make donations to the cause.

The Estée Lauder Breast Cancer Campaign began in 1992 when Evelyn H. Lauder, the daughter-in-law of the company's eponymous founder, co-created the Pink Ribbon. In 1993, Ms. Lauder furthered her support of the cause with the founding of the nonprofit Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

Evelyn Lauder co-created the Pink Ribbon. Image credit: Estée Lauder Companies

Since the launch 26 years ago, the campaign has raised more than $76 million for research, education and medical services.

The initiative this year reflects on the progress that has been made while also showing that there is more that can be done.

“The Breast Cancer Campaign leverages the best of what we do as a company to positively impact people and communities around the world," said William P. Lauder, executive chairman of The Estée Lauder Companies, Inc., in a statement. "When my mother, Evelyn Lauder, started the campaign in 1992, she had a clear vision: to end breast cancer.

"Through the unwavering support of our employees, partners and consumers around the world, we come closer and closer to a cure and to making her dream a reality through sustained investment in education and research," he said.

Continuing the fight

Estée Lauder Companies' breast cancer campaign is aimed at both raising money for the cause and building community.

In 2014, the group continued its support of breast cancer education and research through a user-generated content hub that shared survivors' narratives.

For that year's Breast Cancer Awareness campaign, Estée Lauder created a dedicated Web site focusing on the cause. On the Web site consumers were encouraged to “Hear Our Stories” and “Share Yours” to build a community of women and their families who have been affected by breast cancer as either survivors or those currently undergoing treatment (see story).

Last year, Estée Lauder celebrated the 25th anniversary of the iconic pink ribbon symbol of breast cancer awareness.

For its 25th anniversary, Estée Lauder created a new visual campaign centered on the image of a weathered and old pink ribbon, symbolic of the 25 years of hard work the campaign has put in. The ultimate goal is that in the next 25 years, the pink ribbon and the associated campaign to prevent breast cancer will no longer be necessary (see story).

"Ever since the campaign first launched 26 years ago, so many advancements have been made: breast cancer mortality rates have decreased by 39 percent since the 1980s, five-year survival rates are better than 90 percent when breast cancer is found early, surgery is not as invasive and treatments are now customized to a person’s type of breast cancer," Ms. Seiden-Young said. "In fact, awareness is so high, we dropped the word 'awareness' from our name last year as now is a time for action in the fight against this disease.

"Awareness and fundraising initiatives continue to be so important because women, and men, all over the world are still affected by breast cancer," she said. "In fact, every 19 seconds, somewhere in the world, a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer. While significant progress has been made in the fight, there is still work to be done."