Industrial technology company Siemens, which has a big stake in the medical technology sector around diagnostics and IT, is sponsoring a national grassroots campaign by Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C), a non-profit that funds about 700 cancer researchers across 100 institutions that was founded six years ago by the entertainment industry.
The campaign centers on a physical baton that will be passed from hand to hand in some 30 cities in coming months. It also has a social-media vector on Facebook where, thanks to the baton's Siemens-driven GPS technology, people can track the device around the country via a custom app.
The effort kicked off Wednesday in New York’s Times Square with video ads on 10 billboards and some 6,000 city taxi in-cab screens, and ads in business and news sites like Bloomberg, Atlantic Monthly and Businessweek. During the day, the SU2C organizers and Siemens executives did three stops: Times Square, New York-Presbyterian Hospital (where Spiderman made an airborne appearance) and the American Cancer Society's Hope Lodge near Herald Square.
Siemens' medical diagnostics business has a presence in over 50% of U.S. hospitals, notes Camille Johnston, SVP of corporate affairs at Washington, D.C.-based Siemens USA. "Our decision is about raising awareness and educating people about advances in cancer research, so there's less fear and more hope.” The nonprofit also funds the American Cancer Society, as does Siemens. As part of the "Baton Pass" program, Siemens is donating $1, up to $1 million, for every pass of the baton, measured by an on-board counter.
As part of the Times Square launch, Siemens and the participating organizations were featured on ABC's "Good Morning America." The entertainment conglomerate owns the Times Square signs and taxi assets on which Siemens is running content, and Siemens has an ongoing relationship with ABC parent Disney, for which it is technology provider at Disney World's Epcot park in Orlando, per Johnston. ABC Creative Services did the ads in New York taxis and the Times Square signs. The Facebook app was created by Blue State Digital, and Red Rocket helped develop the baton.
She says that by day's end, some 10,000 people had signed up on Facebook to follow the baton. "The idea is to get hope to individual cancer patients and families. It's a person-by-person message.
The other big dog in the diagnostics and health tech space is GE, which has done a lot of corporate advertising around the division over the past year.Gregory Sorensen, CEO at Siemens Healthcare North America, tells Marketing Daily that Siemens is averse to heading in that direction in the U.S. partly because the name isn’t a consumer brand here. "In their world, everyone knows them." He says in the U.S. the public message embodied at least in part by the baton campaign is how advances in early detection are lowering mortality, and Siemens is a leader in that technology.
"The tools we build will save lives this year," says the former cancer researcher who himself received funding from SU2C. "Diagnostics are a major part of this. We are, for example, seeing a 20% reduction in lung cancer mortality from early detection," he says.