Spinning Science Project


Advertisements are supposed to capture the audience’s attention to either sell an idea or product. A United Kingdom’s ad campaign launched by the Pancreatic Cancer Action in February of 2014 defiantly understood how to hook people’s feelings and sell them on the misfortunes of a widely minimalized disease. The PCA launched a very controversial advertisement to raise awareness of the terribly shocking truths regarding pancreatic cancer. One of the ads, one that will be discussed in this paper, pictures a bald emotionless and sickly woman with a series of noticeable tumors on her head with the headline “I wish I had breast cancer”. The ad then utilizes medical facts about pancreatic survival rates to help stress the severity of the cancer. With the two together –the emotionally striking visual and the undeniable scientific facts– the advertisement effectively captures readers and informs them well about pancreatic cancer.

1The sick woman’s photo is very noticeable. It is purposely big and quite striking. Her name is was Katy Harvey and she was diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer in April 2013 and unfortunately died from at the hands of the merciless disease at only 24 years old. The picture of Harvey may seem like just an accessory to the facts but instead it can be argued that it was the highlight of the advertisement. Picturing a slouching, hairless, common woman helps to convey to a similarly common person viewing the advertisement that pancreatic cancer is not only terribly looking but also blind to its victims. While in this case it was Katy Harvey, it also could have been anyone who got sick. There is nothing specific about Harvey that made her more susceptible to the cancer in comparison to anyone else. The unpleasant conspicuous tumors on her head along with her cold facial expression lends themselves to engaging viewers’ emotions. After any feelings ranging from pity and heartache in regards to her expression or to detest and stomachache in regards to the tumors bulging from her head, no one, especially a viewer of the add, wants to end up like Katy Harvey. No one wants Pancreatic Cancer.

3An appropriate compliment to the visual, the facts did well in filling their logos duty. It first mentions how “today 23 people will be told they have pancreatic cancer”. Just that fact alone puts the reader in a position where they cannot exclude themselves from the facts are to follow because they could very well be one of the 23. It makes the cancer not seem to serial but rather real and possible. The facts about the survival rates also aiding in conveying the hopeless of the disease.  This helps to viewer to understand and empathize with sufferers. It also pushes to reader to notice the severity of pancreatic cancer and its fatal affect. Studies showed that before the PCA ad campaign over 70% of the UK population did not know where their pancreas was, so it is suitable to also believe most did not anything about pancreatic cancer either. Fortunately the survival facts about the cancer helped to educate the public. While the facts may seem pessimistic the unfortunate truth is they are not pessimistic at all because pessimism refers to what may happen… they are realistic, because people are dying from pancreatic cancer and it is very real.

2The most colorful thing featured in the all black backgrounded advertisement was the very conspicuous “I wish I had breast Cancer” quote from Katy Harvey. While many around the world found this disrespectful and unsympathetic to breast cancer and its victims, that was not it its intention. Pancreatic cancer has the lowest survival rate out of all of the 22 most known cancers. Before her death Harvey made a statement in reference to her quote that having breast cancer would have meant having hope that she did not have since she had pancreatic cancer. According to Cancer Research UK, the 1 year survival rate for breast cancer is 95.8% and 5 year 85.1% for women while Pancreatic Cancer is 19.1% 1 year and 3.8% % 5 year for woman. It is science. The difference is impossible to ignore. The quote’s aim was to show the hopelessness of the cancer, while Harvey could have said “I wish I did not have Pancreatic Cancer” she was desperate enough to not even rid of cancer but have one that she at least had a chance to survive because she had realized with pancreatic cancer there was no hope at all.