First TV Campaign Reflects Growth of ‘Coaches vs. Cancer’ Program

For nearly 25 years, Coaches vs. Cancer has been one of the most popular and effective cause-related marketing and fundraising collaborations, first gaining a foothold when then-University of Missouri Men’s Basketball Coach Norm Stewart challenged fans to pledge a dollar amount for every three-pointer made by his Tigers. From that seed and the support of the National Association of Basketball Coaches, it has grown into a huge nationwide initiative which has raised more than $100 million for the American Cancer Society, according to the organization.

To kick off the 2016-17 Coaches vs. Cancer brand messaging entitled “Come and Play for Us,” ACS will make its largest push ever and first significant TV campaign. Top coaches like Lon Kruger (Oklahoma), Tubby Smith (University of Memphis), Roy Williams (North Carolina) and reigning national champion Jay Wright (Villanova) have channeled their recruiting skills in the campaign, simulating a college coach’s phone call; but instead of enticing a blue-chip prospect to attend his school, he’s encouraging viewers to join in the fight against cancer.

The 30-second spot, viewable here, will also be supported by a digital campaign and radio ads.

“This is the first time we’ve ever launched a TV and digital ad campaign for this program, and we look forward to making an impact on brand awareness and participation,” said David Doan, VP, Sports Alliances, American Cancer Society, in a statement.

The campaign is scheduled to run throughout the college basketball season, through April 3, 2017.

Another initiative of Coaches vs. Cancer is the Suits and Sneakers Awareness Week (Jan. 23-29, 2017), in which coaches across the country wear sneakers with their game suit or other attire to raise awareness. This has morphed into additional related effort, the Suits and Sneakers Corporate Challenge, encouraging corporations to hold a Wear Your Sneakers to Work Day on Monday, Jan. 30, based on donations the previous week.

Additionally, the Coaches Vs. Cancer 3-Point Challenge recalls Coach Stewart’s original push in 1993: during the month of February, fans can support their school’s campaign by pledging a donation for ever three made by their team.

In recent years, another huge, visible program, Stand Up To Cancer, has gained a foothold, particularly through partnerships with sports leagues like Major League Baseball.