By the Staff of NYSportsJournalism.com
February 5, 2014: Cancer is an aggressive disease that impacts mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, relatives, friends, co-workers and the people who fix your car, deliver your mail and teach your kids in school.
The best way to defeat it: Be even more aggressive in finding a cure.
That is the heart of the strategy that helps to drive Stand Up To Cancer under the battle cry, "This is where the end of cancer begins."
SU2C, a program of the Los Angeles-based non-profit charitable organization, Entertainment Industry Foundation, was established in 2008 by film and media leaders "to raise funds to hasten the pace of groundbreaking translational research that can get new therapies to patients quickly and save lives."
In 2008, Major League Baseball, led by Commissioner Bud Selig, and MasterCard, an official partner of MLB, became founding partners of SU2C. Since then, MLB and its 30 teams have committed more than $40 million for SU2C through 2014. MasterCard has raised more than $20 million in the past three years alone.
For their on-going efforts, and in particular for aggressive and creative strategies in 2013 that had tremendous impacts, Stand Up To Cancer, along with MLB and MasterCard, has been voted the Grand Sports Marketer of the Year for 2013 by the readers of NYSportsJournalism.
The honor coincides with World Cancer Day (Feb. 4), during which SU2C invited celebrities, athletes and anyone who has been impacted by cancer to publicly show their support. Among those who participated: Samuel L. Jackson, Selena Gomez, Reese Witherspoon and Gwyneth Paltrow.
"The driving motivation behind Stand Up To Cancer is to get finances and resources faster to the doctors, scientists, researchers and institutions who are working to cure cancer of any type," said Alexa Levy, Manager, Marketing & Communications, for Robertson Schwartz Agency, Santa Monica, Calif., which oversees marketing and branding for Stand Up To Cancer.
"We appreciate the organizations that fund awareness, but we believe we need more money going right to research," said Levy. "One hundred percent of every public dollar raised goes right to research. Our overhead comes from our corporate donors, like Major League Baseball and MasterCard. They are huge for us because they put us in front of so many eyeballs. Money can't buy the types of platforms and the recognition we get from them."
In 2013, some 47,700 people attending Game 4 of the World Series between the Boston Red Sox and St. Louis Cardinals, in addition to the players, coaches, umpires and TV crew, held SU2C placards during the national broadcast on Fox in Busch Stadium. A national campaign was anchored by a TV spot starring the mascots from the Philadelphia Phillies and New York Mets in which the Philly Phanatic and Mr. Met put their differences aside and use their MasterCards to make a difference.
In December, in conjunction with the MLB Winter Meetings, an auction saw all 30 teams donate at least one unique item or experience, with most teams offering up multiple donations. The event raised more than $120,000, bringing the two-year MLB Auction total to more than $270,000 for SU2C.
"When you see Commissioner Bud Selig take an active, lead role and he asks you to participate, you heed the call," said Tim Brosnan Executive Vice President of Business for MLB. "It starts with him. And the message hits home not just with fans of the game but anyone who has had a first- or second-hand experience with cancer and anyone who knows someone who is fighting or has successfully fought cancer.
"You have a very dedicated group of high-profile people who run Stand Up To Cancer and support it," said Brosnan. "You have a savvy marketer like MasterCard. You have the entire MLB organization, including its 30 teams, the ownership, the executives and the players bringing the message to our fans, That is unique and impactful."
MasterCard took its support to a higher level in 2013, led by a "Dig In & Do Good" multi-platform activation.
"Dig In & Do Good" was unveiled in conjunction with activities surrounding MLB's All-Star Game, with MasterCard donating up to $4 million to Stand Up To Cancer each time card holders spent $10 or more when dining out or ordering in, and paid with their MasterCard or MasterCard enabled with PayPass.
The goal of $4 million was met by the September deadline. Which inspired a re-launch of the campaign, with MasterCard offering another $4 million in donations.
A multi-media supporting campaign included a national TV spot starring Eric Stonestreet (Modern Family), who was seen jogging into restaurants to thank people for using their MasterCards to aid Stand Up To Cancer. A gala food event with top chefs was tied in to the All-Star Game in New York in July.
"When you look at the marketing efforts, it makes people laugh and it makes people cry," said Levy. "There are 12 million cancer survivors and we show, because we know, that while there is tragedy, there also is victory."
"You see sadness and humor in the campaign, but that is a reflection of life and the desire to find a cure for cancer," echoed Brosnan. "There are sad times, there are happy times. But the effort among Stand Up To Cancer, MLB and MasterCard is saying to fans and to everyone, We are working together to find a cure and we want you to be a big part of it."
The efforts will continue in 2014, with SU2C scheduling a national TV show and MLB planning support during the All-Star Game this July in Minneapolis and again during the World Series. Multi-platform marketing will include TV and PSAs and well as Internet and touchpoints aimed at consumers and corporations.
Other avenues will be explored, such as building on the momentum created by the activation of a mobile app that SU2C unveiled prior to Game 4 of the 2013 World Series, which enables users to create custom photo placards "that name their loved ones in whose honor they are taking a stand."
"Taking a moment during the All-Star Game and World Series, and having Commissioner Selig and his wife, Suzanne, personally involved, is the ultimate statement that people care," said Brosnan. "Everyone is connected to someone who was ravaged by the disease. So it's personal and meaningful to everyone."
SU2C said that since its inception, it has funded more than 500 scientists, pledged some $262 million and awarded more than $160 million for 37 grants. ("Where Your Money Goes.")
"When you see Commissioner Bud Selig take an active, lead role and he asks you to participate, you heed the call. It starts with him."
Also per SU2C: This year, approximately 1.63 million Americans will be diagnosed with cancer and about 572,000 will die of the disease. Today alone, nearly 4,500 people in the U.S. will be diagnosed with cancer.
NYSportsJournalism oversees a national network of Web sites reaching tens of thousands of people with news, features and information that cover sports and entertainment business, marketing, advertising and other activations.
Past Grand Sports Marketers of the Year include Mission Athletecare and BBVA Compass.
NYSportsJournalism would like to congratulate the other nine companies, leagues and people who were named Sports Marketers of the Year for 2013 (in alphabetical order):
Boston Marathon, Buffalo Wild Wings, Dove Men+Care, EA Sports Madden NFL 25, Fox Sports 1, Floyd Mayweather, NHL, Red Bull and Reebok.
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