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Daniela Campari’s Marketing Mission Is Both Professional And Personal

Approximately 1,658,370 new cancer cases were diagnosed in the United States last year, and 589,430 people died from the disease—numbers that continue to rise each year.

As SVP and head of marketing for the American Cancer Society (ACS), Daniela Campari aims to bring more awareness to the organization and the disease and to do her part in helping to decrease these numbers substantially. A breast cancer survivor who also saw cancer take her young niece, Campari knows all too well how devastating the disease can be on a family. When presented with the opportunity to join ACS in 2014, she knew it was a position she had to take.

The marketing guru previously served as head of marketing in the U.K. and Ireland for Wrigley, as well as holding senior marketing and strategy positions with The Coca Cola Company, InterContinental Hotels Group, and Venadar.

Campari recently talked with CMO.com about her hopes, plans, and marketing efforts to help ACS someday eradicate cancer for good.

CMO.com: What is it that you enjoy about the world of marketing?
Campari: Marketing is an amazing mix of art and science. There are people who will tell you marketing is a black box; it’s not, there is a definite science, as well as an art to it. When these two intersect, that’s where you’ll find your breakthroughs, when you find that insight that enables you to communicate in a meaningful way, how you can literally help improve someone’s life. When marketing is done well, that’s the impact that it should have.

CMO.com: I understand you had a deeply personal reason for wanting to work for the American Cancer Society?
I lost my niece, Chiara, at the age of four, to a brain tumor. I was in the U.K. for her funeral and, while there, a friend shared this role with me. I am here at ACS to help the organization achieve its mission: to free the world of the pain and suffering of cancer. That pain and suffering isn’t unfortunately only felt by those who actually have the disease; it is very real for anyone who has lost friends and loved ones or who are seeing their friends and their family go through it. That’s why we’re here. That’s our reason for being, to end the suffering.

CMO.com: One of the goals you mentioned when you came on board was to reposition your organization as the most influential in terms of saving lives from cancer. Tell me about the steps you’ve taken to make that happen.
I believe that if you go far enough into the history of a brand, or, indeed, any individual, you will find their essence. You will find what makes them who they are and what has made them great. That’s exactly what we found with the American Cancer Society. We worked with DDB, our creative agency, to dig deep into ACS’s history, using a process they call “brand conviction.” We interviewed staff, volunteers, consumers, donors, and caregivers—our constituent groups—and asked them what they thought. We discovered we had a brand with great stature, that’s universally respected and trusted. I’ve never seen a brand with such strength in such important brand attributes. We also discovered that while research is an extremely important part of what we do, that ACS’s inception didn’t start there.

CMO.com: Why was it started? What did you learn?
: The doctors that started the American Cancer Society did so because they wanted to empower everybody with knowledge about cancer—diagnosis, prevention, detection, and the research that could help manage the disease. They felt that their cohorts, other doctors, didn’t know enough about cancer and weren’t sharing enough of that information. If empowerment was relevant then, it’s even more relevant now, and so that was an important insight. The American Cancer Society is about empowering people, helping them take back control against this disease—whether it be providing information, or support, such as free lodging at our more than 30 Hope Lodge facilities around the country for patients and their caregivers, or supporting the research that would otherwise not be funded.

CMO.com: Awareness is obviously key to the message. How have you gone about creating more awareness?
We developed a creative platform and campaign that would break through the clutter, not just in the nonprofit arena but in the marketplace as a whole. Our Advantage Humans platform is one that only the American Cancer Society could carry. It’s a beautiful multichannel, multimedia campaign with TV, outdoor, print, and strong digital. The digital and outdoor elements are my favorites because the cancer survivors, patients, and family members highlighted are the true heroes. In digital we can share their amazing stories; with outdoor we can share their beautiful faces on some of the largest billboards in the country. Zenith, our media agency, and DDB truly made the stories larger than life.

Photographer Sandro Miller, himself a cancer survivor, took such special pictures of these wonderful people, and we combined them with very strong, distinctive words that showcased their personal experiences with cancer. In fact, one of the comments we got back from consumers was that the reason they really liked these ads was that we showed cancer patients and survivors as strong and hopeful. Their experiences showcase the collective strength of humanity that is going to be the end of cancer. The raw honesty of this campaign really resonated with people.

CMO.com: That’s great. How do you follow up on that?
Advantage Humans was built as a true campaign, as a platform. It is based on who we are and real stories of people affected by cancer, which gives it its longevity and the ability to evolve. Now that we have helped people rethink ACS and have made that real human connection, we’ve begun telling them exactly what we do. This includes advertising, where we feature Dr. Otis Brawley, our chief medical officer, talking about the research that we fund and the importance of it. We are also sharing stories about how the ACS impacts local communities across the nation and globally.

For example, we have a call center, 1-800-227-2345, really a 24/7 lifeline for anyone who needs help with questions about cancer, anything from, “I’ve just been diagnosed. What do I do?” to “I’m a caregiver, and I don’t know how to tell the children,” or “I need help with transportation and lodging while seeking treatment.” Anything you can think of, our staff is there to help. They are truly amazing.

CMO.com: What’s the secret to reaching out to Millennials and younger generations?
: Our campaign really resonates with them. Millennials have this amazing perspective of themselves and the impact they can have on the world, believing they can change it for good. Because of this, cancer is an especially important and relevant [topic] for them. While it may not have touched them personally, this disease is something they know they can directly impact. One way they get involved is through Relay For Life.

CMO.com: Tell me more about the Relay For Life and what it does to get the message across.
There are over 5,000 events, including 28 in other countries around the world. Some are specifically for colleges, and if you go to them, you’ll see the energy and feel an atmosphere that is unique and very special. One of the important elements of Relay is the Luminaria ceremony. For example, we have our local Relay For Life in Roswell, where I live. I go there every year, and I was there with my family last April. I have a 16-year-old son, a very typical teenager who can’t be seen hanging out with his parents. I didn’t see him from the minute we arrived at the event. However, when the Luminaria ceremony started—you light a candle and dedicate a luminaria for those that you’ve lost or for those who are suffering; I lit one for my niece—he came to find me, and we walked around the stadium holding hands. That’s the impact this event can have; it transcends age, ethnicity, gender, and grief and provides such hope.

CMO.com: Has social media made it easier for people to have conversations about cancer and to talk about it more openly?
Yes, social media is a huge component of our work, and it allows us to start a dialogue with people. If you look at the Advantage Humans platform, if you look at the words that we’ve used, they are real and raw emotions that people feel as they are impacted by this disease, everything from anger to hope. Part of the campaign is to help people feel more comfortable talking about the disease and the impact it has on them. The campaign launched in November right around the holidays, often the time of year when it’s the toughest to talk about cancer and other health problems, but it’s actually when we should be talking about it. The more we share—and social media provides a conversational platform for more people to become aware and to learn, and share that learning—the more people learn, the more prevention and detection. The more prevention and detection, the more lives will be saved.

CMO.com: Have the changes in health care affected your job, what you do, and what your message is?
There are thousands of people who don’t get the chance to finish their treatment or to even start it. Lack of access to care is a major contributor to deaths from cancer. The health-care changes are definitely making a positive impact, and we support legislation that helps people get access to adequate and affordable health care.

CMO.com: What do you consider to be the biggest challenge of your job?
The responsibility that comes from knowing that, as an organization, every message you send, every action you take, and every investment you make has the potential to help save a life.

CMO.com: Looking ahead at your time in the organization, what goals have you set for yourself? What would you like to accomplish there?
Marketing is integral to an organization’s strategy. As such, we partner with every department in this organization—IT, finance, development, our volunteer groups, our research and patient services teams, etc. One of our collective opportunities is to strengthen our relationship with our donors. They are fundamental to us being able to achieve our mission. We need to further develop the relationship whereby they become investors in our mission. We can also do a better job of nurturing these donors, providing solid customer experience and making sure that our story is always relevant and that we are always sharing it.

The more that people know what we do and why we do it, they’re not just going to give once—they will become partners in our mission. We want them to embrace the new American Cancer Society and be personally invested in everything we do. When that happens, we will see an end to the pain and suffering of cancer, and our job will be done.

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