Major League Baseball’s Psuedo Anti-Cancer Ads

Major League Baseball “Stand Up to Cancer” ad

The first game of Major League Baseball’s World Series was filled with ads promoting MLB’s  association with a group called Stand Up To Cancer. The ads told viewers how MLB for standing up to cancer, but curiously only mentioned research. The ads offered no information at all about cost-free prevention methods that we already know really do work to prevent cancer, like quitting smoking and chewing tobacco, limiting alcohol consumption, staying physically active, maintaining a healthy weight and avoiding environmental pollutants. None of these methods require any research, and all are  inexpensive and known to be effective. Instead, MLB’s ads drive viewers to Stand Up To Cancer’s website, which does mention quitting smoking, although that information is buried several screens deep. The ads put all the front-and-center emphasis on research and fighting cancer at the cell level, rather than at the policy level, which is an extraordinarily expensive and relatively unproductive focus. Stand Up to Cancer’s website makes no mention whatsoever about policy changes we now know really do prevent disease when it come to smoking, like smoke-free public places and workplaces, eliminating smoking in movies, etc.  All MLB’s ads really mean is that MLB purchased a deft ad campaign that was designed to paint MLB as fighting a dread disease. The ads are very slick and good; they evoke emotion by focusing on how a dread disease affects real people, and frame MLB as part of the solution — exactly the right PR prescription for generating goodwill but making no real changes in the status quo. MLB bought itself some goodwill credits, but the ad campaign is guaranteed to have little or no effect on cancer deaths, and does nothing to give people real information on cost-free actions that really can affect cancer rates.

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