Breast Cancer

HoneyBaked foils breast cancer.


My first chemo treatment, six years ago, happened in October, National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. As I had my first bouts of nausea and fatigue, as I lost my hair, it seemed like the world was awash in pink – pink ribbons, pink packaging, pink tattoos on NFL players arms. And you know what? It made me feel good, like the whole country was pulling for me as I embarked upon my breast cancer journey.
ellyn_lacey_brettCloser to home, friends and family were pulling for me in more tangible ways. They had my kids over for playdates. They took over my carpool shifts. They neatened up my house.

Perhaps most important of all, they fed me and my family. Night after night, people showed up with dinners – hot, delicious, and plentiful enough to give us leftovers for days.

In the midst of all the upheaval that breast cancer brought to our family, every night we got to enjoy something normal – a nice family dinner. Those meals, and the love behind them, helped me more than I can adequately express.

They also inspired us at Brogan to create an initiative for our client, The HoneyBaked Ham Company –100 free dinners for families affected by breast cancer.

Recipients of the dinners, each worth $75, will be nominated by friends and family on Facebook. Then each Friday in October, 20 winners will be randomly chosen.

And, of course, the Ham that these families receive will be wrapped in fabulous pink foil.

It makes me happy to think of another family, battling breast cancer just like mine did, sitting down to a meal that makes them feel cared for.


But HoneyBaked isn't stopping there. Their multi-faceted, month-long campaign, HoneyBaked Foils Breast Cancer, incorporates everything that's buoyed me as a breast cancer patient, and now survivor. For instance...

  • With each purchase of a ham, HoneyBaked will donate $1 to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, which provides free mammograms, education, support, and early detection services in all 50 states. They'll also be collecting NBCF donations from customers all month long.
  • On Fridays, HoneyBaked will reward customers with a buy-one-get-one-free deal on sandwiches. All you have to do is bring a friend and wear pink!
  • There will be Facebook posts full of important-to-know breast cancer facts and pins full of tributes and powerful quotes.


I love all the ideas that Brogan and HoneyBaked have devised together, but my favorite is definitely those dinners. They show that HoneyBaked really gets this breast cancer thing. They know that all the pink we'll see this month might be cheering, but nothing comforts as well as comfort food.

Angelina Jolie's Life-Saving Revelation


Most everyone who's met me (and plenty who know me only through my blogs or other media) have learned some basic things about me:

  • I’m a breast cancer survivor.
  • I developed breast cancer at age 36 because I have the BRCA 2 genetic mutation, which greatly increases the risk of both breast and ovarian cancer.
  • Because of my mutation, I chose to get a prophylactic oophorectomy in addition to the double mastectomy that was part of my cancer treatment.

People know these very intimate facts about me because I tell them; because it’s vitally important to educate people about the dangerous BRCA mutations and encourage them to get tested if they have risk factors.

And when I say vitally important, I mean it. The genetic test that detects BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 has saved many, many lives. Women who discover that they have one of these mutations can fend off almost certain cancer with preventative surgeries.

As of this morning, we know that Angelina Jolie took that test. She discovered that she had the BRCA 1 mutation and recently opted for a preventative double mastectomy.

Then she told the world about it in the New York Times.

When I saw her op ed this morning, I immediately contacted Sue Friedman, founder and executive director of FORCE: Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered, the hereditary breast and ovarian cancer organization where I am a local outreach coordinator.

This is huge.

In one day, Angelina Jolie educated thousands and thousands of people who might never have heard of the BRCA mutation. There’s no doubt that she saved lives.

I can’t tell you how grateful I felt reading her article. Not only did the paparazzi-hounded celeb tell us private details about her mastectomy process, she also covered many other important points.

She let us know that her chances of developing breast cancer—once 87 percent—are now less than five percent.

She told spouses and partners how important they are to the mastectomy transition.

She told us she feels just as feminine as always.

And she let us know that she looks just the same to her children, but for a few small scars. More importantly, her kids’ fears about losing their mom to cancer are greatly diminished.

Finally, Jolie advocated to make the expensive BRCA test—it costs more than $3,000 in the U.S.—more accessible for all women.

FORCE has been fighting for this, too. The organization contributed to the ACLU’s lawsuit challenging Myriad, which holds the patent on the BRCA genes. The case was argued before the Supreme Court in April.

FORCE and the ACLU are powerful entities, but as anybody who’s ever been in a supermarket checkout line knows, there’s nothing like the influence of celebrity. Using celebrity to educate people about obscure but important medical information is one of the best kinds of public service that I can think of. I’m proud to say that Brogan’s own Jackie Schultz, whom you probably know as the current Miss Michigan USA is using her visibility in the same way. Jackie has been speaking out about Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser syndrome, a congenital condition in which females are born without a uterus. Jackie has this condition, along with 75,000 other women in the United States. It wasn’t easy for her to reveal this information about herself. But, like Angelina Jolie, Jackie recognized that her position in the public eye presented an amazing opportunity.

There’s another word for what Jackie and Jolie have done with their personal revelations: Marketing.

Most people think marketing means selling stuff. And of course, we proudly do plenty of that at Brogan.

But marketing—especially the social marketing that is Brogan’s expertise—is also about informing. Advocating. Making a difference. And, in some cases, potentially saving lives.

There are so many reasons I’m grateful to do what I do. Having the ability to educate about the BRCA mutation and advocate for greater accessibility to genetic testing is definitely one of them.

Angelina Jolie’s celebrity gives her that ability, too—in spades. I’m thrilled that she’s used it for this cause and I have very high hopes that her decision to go public is going to affect genetic testing practices and save lives.

Two viral videos that do way more than entertain.


Viral videos are an amazing phenomenon. Often, they’re purely about simple entertainment/procrastination. (How many times have my kids exclaimed, “Charlie, you bit my finger?” A lot.)

But videos with real messages have legs, too. You’ll find no better example, in my opinion, than the Pink Glove Dance.

Each time I watch this sweet and silly video of healthcare workers dancing around in their scrubs and surgical caps, it brings a smile to my face. The video stars staffers at Portland, Oregon’s Providence St. Vincent Medical Center. Everybody featured is wearing pink vinyl gloves and dancing for breast cancer awareness.

Well, the video was such a hit that its sponsor, Medline (the manufacturer of those pink gloves), had to make another one.

“If one video and one hospital could bring this much attention to breast cancer awareness and prevention,” reads a caption on the website, “think about the impact of a video that featured 20 times the people and facilities participating in it.”

The result is this sequel video. The video features 4,000 dancers from 14 different medical facilities and this time, they include healthcare workers and breast cancer survivors.



The sequel is just as fabulous as the first video, if not more.  The song, “You Won’t Dance Alone” by the Best Day Ever, is perfect. The choreography is really impressive. (Well, impressive for a bunch of people who spent their twenties in med school.)

But it’s the vast number of participants that makes me cry every time I watch the sequel. There are dancers from hospitals in Newark, NJ  to La Jolla, CA to Plano, TX and they are all working it. Their joy is infectious and incredibly moving. These healthcare workers (and janitors and administrators and lab techs etc.) are all helping women with breast cancer. They fight the disease every day. As a breast cancer survivor, I can attest—these videos really do matter.

That’s clearly why Medline is keeping the magic going. Today, July 2nd, they’ll announce the details for another Pink Glove Dance competition. You know I’m going to campaign for my amazing treatment team to submit a video. I’d also love to be part of one of those survivor dances.

Whether or not we Detroiters make the cut, I’ll just be glad to see the Pink Glove Dances continue. Do a little procrastinating and check them out. I promise you won’t regret the eight minutes (ten if you stick around to make a donation to the National Breast Cancer Foundation) you'll spend watching these advocates shake their booties for breast cancer.

Today, we light it up blue.


Today is World Autism Awareness Day. That means for the next twenty-four hours, buildings and monuments around the world will be bathed in blue light. Among the places “lighting it up blue” are the Empire State Building, the Paris Stock Exchange, The Sydney Opera House . . . and the historic Peabody Mansion in Birmingham, Michigan, which is the home of Brogan & Partners.

I’m so proud that our firm will be a part of this amazing day, when so many people will be focusing on autism. Maybe the blue lights will inspire more people to volunteer on behalf of those with autism. Or to donate money for autism research. Maybe those who live with autism on a daily basis will choose this day to reach out and educate others about the disorder.

Blue Peabody Mansion for Autism

Photo by Mike Lord

There are so many ways to learn and help. The blue lights are there to remind us that autism is all around us. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, autism’s prevalence has now risen to one in 88 children. You’d be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t have a personal connection to this disorder.

That's why we are supporting Michigan's Lt. Governor, Brian Calley, in his effort to implement autism insurance reform in Michigan--to make sure that the 15,000 people living with autism in Michigan get the treatment they need to live a bright and productive future.
That’s why I (as well as Brogan & Partners) am a longtime supporter of Friendship Circle of Michigan, which provides services to kids with special needs, including those with autism.
It’s why I contribute to Camp Kids All Together, which helps autistic kids go to an inclusive day camp along with children of all abilities.
And it’s why my husband, Jon, has just joined the board of The Bear Hug Foundation, which helps kids with special needs go to overnight camp.

As many of you know, we bathe the Peabody Mansion in a pink glow every October to observe Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This is the first time we’ve shined our light on a new issue. I hope it gets people talking. I hope it prompts a flood of donations.

And I hope it means that some day, that one in 88 statistic will be a distant memory.

The nail polish index.


Have you heard of the “lipstick index?” This is a term created by Leonard Lauder during the 2001 recession. As the economy went down, Lauder posed, the sale of little, cheering luxuries like lipstick went up. 

But in our current economic downturn, the news is all about nail polish. According to Time magazine, lipsticks sales are only up 14 percent this year, but the sale of nail polish has risen 54%.

This might simply be a fashion trend. Or it might be because nail polish is cheaper than lipstick. (In other words, even lipstick is too rich for our blood these days.)

But here’s a positive spin on the news: I think good nail care is a boon for women. At Brogan & Partners, we even bring in a manicurist once a week to give our employees some free pampering and—if they want it—polish.

This is a perk, yes, but I also think it’s a sound business decision.

I know that sounds a little bizarre, but hear me out.

When you think about it, your hands are one of the first impressions you make in a business meeting. You thrust out your hand and shake. And while men might focus on their grip, women think about their grooming. Manicured hands—with neatly shaped nails and no ragged cuticles—show that you’re put together. You’re conscientious, even meticulous. You’re on top of the little details. And you’ve got style!

All that conveys, and inspires, confidence. And this is no small thing in the business of marketing. After all, we’re not just marketing products and ideas. We’re marketing ourselves.

Not that polish is all about putting on a show. It gives the wearer a lift, too. How many times a day do you glance in the mirror? Maybe three or five?

 But your hands are always in your sightline. When I type, gesture, or drive, it gives me a little lift to see a flash of color and shine. Does it boost my confidence? Who can say? I’ve been a diehard nail-painter since the age of eleven. I barely know myself without a coat or three of lacquer on my nails.

I do know that when I was going through my breast cancer treatment, I was appalled when I heard I might have to take off my nail polish for surgery. In her amazing memoir, Geralyn Lucas wrote why she wore lipstick to her mastectomy. I didn’t care much about lipstick when I went for mine, but my polished nails felt like the utmost symbol of my dignity. (And yes, I got to keep my mani.)

Nails might seem like a frivolous detail, but I think they’ve got some significance—in life or at work. So, even though it’s a sign of bad economic times, I’m kind of glad women are finding a pick-me-up in nail polish these days. In my book, it’s one of the better boosters out there.


Facebook fun for a cause and for marketing to women.


There are many reasons to love Facebook. I think I’ve just found another.

Here’s what I mean. Check out the Olay website. It’s a thing of beauty, isn’t it? All glamorous black shadowing, glossy red accents, dramatic splash effects and seasonal sparkles.

Now take a look at Olay’s Facebook page, specifically its “Defuzz in Defember” campaign.

Olay Facebook Page

Here you have a fresh-faced model wearing  a phantom mustache. She’s advertising the company’s charitable campaign for December: buy Olay Smooth Finish Facial Hair Removal Duo, and Olay will donate a dollar to the National Breast Cancer Foundation (and give you a $3 discount, to boot).

To spread the word about defuzzing for a cause, you can add a pink mustache to your Facebook picture. And you know me, I can’t resist any opportunity to advocate for breast cancer research. Check out my cute ’stache here.

A glamour shot it’s not. What it is is a cute, lighthearted way to raise money for a great cause.

A fun stunt like this might not make it into an expensive ad campaign, but on Facebook, a company can be creative and cheeky. It’s the perfect counterpart to an every-pixel-perfect TV spot or print ad.

In other words, with the dual platform of advertising and Facebook pages, a company can have its glamour and its goofiness, too. And since we know women are a complicated target audience, that multi-prong approach can only be a good thing.

What do you think of the Defuzz in Defember campaign? Have you seen any other creative campaigns lately on Facebook or other social networks?


Another Breast Cancer PSA you don't want to miss.


As a breast cancer survivor, nothing makes me happier than media that really gets women to check their breasts. After all, it was Brogan & Partners’ spot for St. John Health that inspired me to be more diligent about checking my own breasts. Soon after we created that commercial more than four years ago, I discovered a lump and caught my cancer early.

This PSA from Rethink Breast Cancer makes me doubly happy. Not only is it a great two-and-a-half minute tutorial on checking your breasts, it’s also hilarious! Not to mention easy on the eyes. The PSA stars Anthony, a spokesmodel with sparkly eyes and bare, washboard abs. He demonstrates how to examine your breasts with TLC: Touch, Look, Check.

So if this message is aimed at women, why do we see a man palpating his pecs in the shower (complete with pink shower cap)?

Because, explains Anthony’s co-star, a gray-haired doctor, “Studies have shown that women are more likely to watch a video if it features a hot guy.”

Clearly, that’s true. The PSA has gotten more than 1.5 million views on YouTube.

Rethink Breast Cancer has also produced a great, free app called the Your Man Reminder. Users customize their regularly-scheduled reminders to feature the hottie of their choice. They can even  alter his pose. He’ll send sexy/cute messages to remind them to do their breast-checks.

I think this is great. It calls to mind another irreverent (and effective) breast-check prompt, Check Your Boobies.

But I don’t just like Rethink’s PSA because it gives me a laugh. I think its humor makes it more effective. Good advertising makes an emotional connection. Some move you tears, like our St. John Health TV Spot for breast cancer. Others make you laugh like our Michigan Department of Community Health TV Spot to remind women to get regular pap tests.

And when you’re talking about a breast check reminder, memorable is as good as it gets.

What do you think of the Your Man Reminder? Can you think of other breast cancer prevention spots that have lodged in your memory?


Helen Phillips and Brogan & Partners announce Partners in Pink.


I’m a long time fan of the TV show, The Biggest Loser. For the past five years, I’ve spent many Tuesday nights glued to NBC watching the triumphs and the struggles of a group of dedicated and brave men and women competing to lose weight and regain control of their lives. It’s a perfect mix of inspiration combined with a bit of drama to end my day. During season 7, a fellow Michigander, Helen Phillips took home the grand prize.

Last summer, I had a terrific opportunity to have lunch with Helen Phillips and get to know her off of the TV screen. Over salads (dressing on the side), we talked about our personal goals. Helen is focused on helping people live a healthier life, and I’m forever dedicated to putting an end to breast cancer. We knew we could work together to create a really great event.

On October 20, 2011, Helen Phillips and I invite you to celebrate healthy living and survivorship at our first Partners in Pink Party. Come see the historic Peabody Mansion in pink lights honoring breast cancer survivors and remembering those who have lost their battle. It’s the second year our beautiful building will shine bright pink in downtown Birmingham. We have wonderful sponsors donating food, drinks and entertainment. The majority of your ticket price will go to benefit two organizations that mean so much to us--The Helen Phillip’s Foundation and FORCE. The Helen Phillips Foundation promotes healthy living to combat obesity, and FORCE is a national non-profit organization devoted to hereditary breast and ovarian cancer. We hope to see you at this one-of-a-kind event.  

Brogan & Partners pink building

Our award winning healthcare creative wins national acclaim…again.


At Brogan & Partners, we pride ourselves on being one of the best healthcare agencies in the country. We have a passion for it. And our client loyalty and creative portfolio demonstrates it. But it’s nice to have the recognition of your peers in the highly competitive, realm of national advertising award shows. So we are thrilled that we have won two awards at The 28th Annual Healthcare Advertising Awards, sponsored by Healthcare Marketing Report.

Our teen driving public service poster (see below) for the Michigan Department of Community Health received a Silver Award. And we won a Merit Award for our TV commercial “Close Up” created for Covenant HealthCare (see below). The MDCH teen driving poster also received a Silver Award at the Aster Awards as well.

Every year we are proud to bring home the hardware from award shows, but we realize that agencies like ours create award winning work every day. The difference is having great clients. Clients who recognize great ideas. Who push it through their own internal bureaucracies. Who add their own passion and creativity to the process. So thanks to our clients who made these healthcare awards possible: Geralyn, Jason, Amy, Kelly, Larry and Barb. You are the prize. Great clients like you (and we are lucky to have many) are what every agency creative director like me covets. Thanks for making us all winners!

mdch teen driving poster


Healthcare marketing to the fashionista.


Healthcare and fashion – what an admirable and extremely marketable partnership. What’s more – the majority of both of these audiences are women. Women are the key healthcare decision makers. Women are the key purchasers in the household. And women are the reason that the partnership between healthcare marketing and fashion works so well.

As an avid Ralph Lauren customer, I'm well aware that at least twice a year Mr. Lauren hosts the nationwide event, “Give In Style”. During this event, shoppers enjoy a 25 percent discount, awarding 10 percent of their purchase to the Pink Pony Fund, the Ralph Lauren Center for Cancer Care and Prevention, or in recent years, the medical needs of current natural disaster relief efforts – Hurricane Katrina, Haiti, Japan…

Ralph Lauren isn’t the only designer promoting these types of events. Everyone who’s anyone in the fashion industry is doing it. Kenneth Cole has been a part of this movement for years himself, with his AIDS Research Foundation, amfAR. And Michael Kors, with his Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Diane Von Furstenberg, Tory Burch…the list goes on…

Have you shopped a fashion-focused healthcare fundraising event? If not, it's time to look one up in your local community. They're the thing to do around town. It's fun to give back, and even more fun to get a little something in the process. It's a win, win for everyone involved.


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