Wednesday, November 12, 2008

LiveStrong

Lance’s Legacy

At a young age, Lance was one of the world’s top cyclists. He won multiple World Championships, the Tour Du Pont and many Tour de France stages. Lance was nearing the peak of his cycling career. At age 25, Lance was diagnosed with cancer.
His diagnosis was testicular cancer and is the most common cancer in men ages 15-35. With early detection, chances of curing the disease are 90 percent. Yet, Lance ignored the warning signs and went untreated until the cancer spread to his abdomen, lungs and brain.
With a combination of physical conditioning, a strong support system and a competitive spirit, Lance declared himself a cancer survivor, not a cancer victim. He actively sought education about his disease and treatment, underwent aggressive treatment and eventually beat the disease.
Before he was fully recovered and knew his own fate, Lance established the Lance Armstrong Foundation. This was the start of his life as an activist for people living with cancer and world representative to the cancer community.
The Lance Armstrong Foundation
"At the Lance Armstrong Foundation (LAF), we inspire and empower people affected by cancer. For more than 10 years, the Foundation and its founder, cancer survivor and champion cyclist Lance Armstrong, have partnered with other organizations and dedicated advocates to make cancer a national priority in the United States. Now the Lance Armstrong Foundation is taking the battle to fight cancer global.”
The Lance Armstrong Foundation was founded in 1997 by Lance Armstrong. LAF was created to offer cancer patients information, knowledge, and attitude that are important for dealing with cancer and its exhausting treatments.
LAF is founded on four key programs that provide resources that cancer victims can utilize to help battle and deal with the difficulties of their illness. The first program focuses on education and offers patients and their doctors the information they need to successfully choose the right treatment method. Education not only concentrates on medical advice, but it is also open to give emotional support as well.
Another of the core programs is advocacy, especially at political gatherings and lobby sessions where representatives of people suffering from cancer encourage the government to take action against the war on cancer. Representation can help increase research funding and promote new scientific options that may lead to treatment options in the future.
A public health program is the third program that offers cancer patients and their families post treatment support and special services. The ultimate goal of the LAF is to further cancer research. Through extensive fundraising, the donated money supports and offers financial assistance to doctors and scientists to develop clinical trials and medications to provide advanced cancer treatment. The funding also aides programs who aim to improve the lives of those living with cancer and assisting them with the daily challenges.
LAF has invested more than $18.7 million in research grants. The Lance Armstrong Foundation believes that “knowledge is power and unity is strength”.

www.livestrong.org

“Wear Yellow Live Strong”

In 2003, LAF launched two educational resources, the LiveStrong Survivorship Notebook and the LiveStrong online Resource for Cancer Survivors. Both provide information on the physical, practical and emotional aspects of surviving the disease. They are free resources for cancer victims, survivors and families to explore.
In response to the start of Lance’s LiveStrong theme, Nike approached LAF to create 5 million yellow wristbands with “LIVESTRONG” engraved on them in support of Lance during his sixth Tour de France.
The yellow wristband has its roots in “baller bands,” rubber bands that street basketball players wear on their wrists to get psyched up for games. Nike initially thought to make baller bands with different messages for promotional items, but the idea wrapped around the LiveStrong campaign instead.
The wristbands’ start was support for Lance’s efforts in both cycling and raising awareness for cancer across the nation. Armstrong and his entire team wore the yellow wristband.
The Lance Armstrong Foundation and Nike launched the Wear Yellow Live Strong campaign on May 17, 2004.The campaign’s goals were to raise money for cancer research, increase cancer awareness and encourage people to live life to the fullest. Nike’s goal was to raise $5 million through wristband sales on top of the $1 million they donated to the Lance Armstrong Foundation. All proceeds would eventually go to LAF in efforts to raise $25 million.
This was a significant milestone for the Lance Armstrong Foundation and Nike’s corporate relationship, considering Nike was the only sponsor to stick with Lance when he was diagnosed with cancer. During the 2004 Summer Olympics, the wristbands were given to each U.S. athlete to wear on their arm to show support.
The wristbands became an astounding craze overnight and gave rise to “cause marketing” –the pairing of a product with a social mission. Both the 2004 Tour de France and Summer Olympics created national media attention for Lance’s LiveStrong wristband. Media such as People Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, National Public Radio, and Advertising Age were drawn to this yellow rubber silicon wristband. Appearances and endorsements on television shows such as Oprah raised the wristbands profile to a fashionable level.

The Wristband


The alliance between Nike and the Lance Armstrong Foundation not only created an awareness wristband, but it also sparked a consumer craze. The wristbands cost $1 a piece and the proceeds go directly to the Lance Armstrong Foundation.
Everything about the wristband breathes Lance. The engraved “LiveStrong” is the foundation’s motto. The color yellow signifies the lead rider’s jersey in the Tour de France and is also the color of hope.
After their debut, the wristbands were worn by Lance and his team at the Tour de France; the U.S. Summer Olympic athletes; celebrities such as Matt Damon, Bruce Willis and Robin Williams; and even politicians such as John Kerry. They were summer 2004’s hardest item to get. Many resorted to the eBay market with hopes of obtaining these charitable wristbands.
Although eBay provided new ground for wristband sales, people were buying them for prices well beyond their original price. People could have easily donated $1 or more to the Lance Armstrong foundation, but it was the visual symbol of concern that was valued more so than the actual cause it was supporting. The wristbands posed a question whether philanthropy was posing as fashion or vice versa.
Philanthropy as a fashion statement goes back to earlier days. Since ancient times, people wore jewelry as a way of expressing some sentiment, feeling or as a symbol. The wristband is a modern adaptation of an age old tradition; jewelry as a symbol of hope, courage and support of a worthy cause.
However, the wristbands are usually worn for personal reasons, whether to support someone fighting cancer or tribute to someone who has lost their battle. The bright yellow attracts attention and has been compared to the red AIDS awareness ribbons. The difference between the AIDS ribbon and the LiveStrong wristband is the lack of controversy surrounding the wristband’s visible concern for cancer.
The most interesting facet of the wristband is its association with Lance’s heroic battle over cancer at the peak of his fame. The LiveStrong wristband satisfies the desire to have something to believe in, making it a “champion of the good-will game”. Cause Marketing Forum President David Hessekiel says it best,
“If this was a bracelet done by an obscure organization, and didn’t have the celebrity attached that created this buzz, we wouldn’t be talking about.”
The wristband zoomed in on the power of today’s youth. The wristband carries a simple message that even kids can identify with. In particular, teenagers were drawn to it because not only do proceeds go to a good cause, but it is a cheap way to look cool. The wristband was versatile and could be worn with any outfit. The LiveStrong craze was a powerful reminder to businesses not to underestimate the power of the youth consumer market.
By 2005, fifty-five million wristbands were wrapped around people’s arms. In spite of the fashion trend they started, the wristband-clad community understood the real meaning behind the wristband.

Going Strong


The “Wear Yellow Live Strong” campaign has been through years of continued success. The wristband is still visibly worn on many arms, but not to the extent that it was in the early stages of the campaign. The wristband’s popularity followed a bell curve path. However, LiveStrong is at its all-time high today today. The campaign has grown through social marketing (www.livestrong.com and www.livestrong.org), special events, and LiveStrong Challenges. Nike and LAF have even extended the LiveStrong line by adding the “10/2” collection. A dollar from each sale goes to LAF.
Betty Otter-Nickerson, the Chief Operating Officer at the Lance Armstrong Foundation said it’s busier than ever with Lance getting back on the bike to train for the 2009 Tour de France and the campaign’s move to go global.
Ms. Otter-Nickerson said the number one thing they must focus on with globalization, is the mere fact that they must expand their message to reach the key countries. The Lance Armstrong Foundation conducted research to determine their target countries by assessing public perception of cancer, media audits and press coverage, and the medical environment. They determined their target countries would be Italy, South Africa, and Mexico. Their global message will emphasize the fact that cancer kills more than 8 million people every year worldwide which totals more than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined. The LiveStrong campaign is leveraging Lance to carry this message as he makes his comeback to the cycling world.

LiveStrong Lessons


The LiveStrong campaign gave us a charitable cause and paired it with an element of fashion, making it a very successful campaign. After the initial release of the wristband, many non-profit organizations followed in LAF’s footsteps, pushing for donations in return for a colorful wristband to let others know of one’s philanthropic efforts.
However, the LiveStrong wristband posed an issue for some. People started purchasing the wristband for fashion purposes rather than for the original cause. In my opinion this was one of the few flaws to the campaign. It got too big for its own good. However, as time went on, the underlying message resounded its tune and people were brought back from the fashion element they gravitated toward.
Sales on eBay created a black market for the wristband, creating demand so high that prices increased and people were essentially giving their money to profiteers for the dollar-worth wristband. Once again, I think the craze grew too fast. Supply couldn’t keep up with demand; such high sales were not inticipated.
The yellow wristband filled a creneau for philanthropies and called it cause marketing. People who donated to foundations could now visibly announce their generosity. It also filled a creneau in the fashion world. The wristband is versatile enough to be worn with almost any outfit while sharing Lance’s and the Foundation’s message of living strong.
The Susan G. Komen for the Cure is a similar foundation rooted in their effort to raise money for breast cancer research. Instead of fashionable wristbands, Susan G. Komen for the Cure prides themselves in the pink ribbon that so many women and their supporters wear. Both foundations established themselves as the leading foundations for cancer through the use of special events and corporate relationships.
I think Lance’s return to cycling to spread the global message comes at a good time. LiveStrong has fallen off the media map in the past few months. I have always been taught that with growth comes globalization and vice versa. LiveStrong’s globalization efforts not only signal the campaign’s success up until this point, but also shows the impact that this message imparts on its audience. People across the globe want to see and hear this message. LAF’s message speaks truth and that truth is that cancer is the number one killer in the United States and kills 8 million people every year worldwide. This is an astounding truth, but the Lance Armstrong Foundation is giving people the resources they need to live happy and to live strong.

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