A Look Behind The Scenes Of A Strategic Effort

Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C) is a charitable program established by media, entertainment and philanthropic leaders who have been affected by cancer. SU2C aims to raise significant funds for translational cancer research through online and televised efforts.


 Sensis was selected to help the nonprofit expand its efforts to the Hispanic market, both in the U.S. and abroad. Our challenge was to develop a short-term strategy for the nationally televised Sept. 5 telethon that would jumpstart a long-term effort. With just six weeks before the event, our team had to tackle some big issues quickly and tactically.

Issue No. 1 - Geographic / International Strategy
SU2C was interested in targeting all Spanish-speakers worldwide. However, we had limited time and funds. Most importantly, the cultural, technological and communication differences in these countries magnified the problem of trying to apply a one-size-fits-all approach to the entire pan-Latin American region. For instance, Internet penetration in Mexico differs dramatically from Chile.



Our recommendation was that SU2C focus on the U.S. Hispanic market, and expansion plans would move south to Mexico and then Central America in 2009 and beyond. This way, the platform in the U.S. Hispanic market could be more naturally leveraged, considering 68% of U.S. Hispanics are of Mexican descent.

Issue No. 2 - Language and Acculturation Approach
SU2C had to address the age-old language question - should we focus on Spanish, English or some type of hybrid language strategy (i.e., Spanglish)? This question had a corollary component - what level of acculturation should we focus on?

With deals in place with the three major networks to run one hour of free programming and with multiple celebrity endorsements and ongoing PR in the mass market, we felt it was appropriate to assume SU2C's general market efforts would reach U.S. Hispanics that skewed toward to the following demographic profile:

  • English dominant or fully bilingual
  • Higher levels of acculturation

Consequently, we identified less acculturated, Spanish-dominant Hispanics as our primary audience.

Issue No. 3 - Brand and Corporate Identity
Then our attention turned to the corporate identity and brand of Stand Up To Cancer. This name, while powerful and descriptive in English, is difficult to pronounce by a Spanish speaker and loses all of its powerful double-meaning. The connotation of "standing up" to an issue or problem does not translate literally into Spanish. Therefore, our creative team undertook a branding exercise to develop a natural Spanish term that was a likely extension of the English name.

After identifying the top three new names for SU2C, we developed abbreviated focus groups to test them. One name stood out - Unidos Contra el Cancer (UCEC) or United Against Cancer in English. We moved forward in developing a visual brand that seamlessly tied the Stand Up To Cancer English logo to the new Unidos Contra el Cancer logo.

Issue No. 4- Consumer Insights
With a name, a Spanish-dominant segmentation strategy and a geographic focus on the U.S. Hispanic market, we turned our attention to identifying key insights that would guide our communications strategy. Specifically, we wanted to understand U.S. Hispanics' attitudes toward charity and giving and cancer.

One trend was that Hispanic individual giving is informal and often not counted by traditional measures used in the general market. This has led to a misconception that Latinos do not give as much as their general counterparts, which research showed to be untrue. In fact, Latino giving often occurs in church settings and in the form of remittances to the population's home countries. Almost 63% of Hispanic households gave to a charity in 1998, up six percentage points from 1995.

Most importantly, we found Hispanic giving to be very dependent on the nonprofit's ability to respond to the needs of the Latino community and increased familiarity and trust with organized philanthropy in the U.S. The last point was particularly poignant and buoyed by some of our focus group research - a lot of first-generation Hispanics did not trust charities in their home countries, a legacy they brought with them to the U.S.

Looking at cancer in the Hispanic community, we identified two important trends - Hispanics have higher incidences of particular types of cancer and they are generally unaware of this.

Our research pointed us to a couple of key strategic imperatives:

  1. We should start slow in introducing SU2C / UCEC to the Hispanic market to build trust and understanding of the organization.
  2. We would have to incorporate a significant educational component in our SU2C Spanish outreach.


Issue No. 5 - Web Site Strategy
We decided to focus our 2008 efforts on using the Web to introduce the Hispanic market to SU2C / UCEC and provide educational content. This approach was further reinforced by the news that Telemundo's MUN2 would be airing the telethon with subtitles in Spanish.

Without the breadth of video content available on the English site, our Web strategy revolved around developing a microsite in Spanish that would approach the Hispanic consumer differently. Our team developed a new site map and information architecture for that:

  • Utilized a similar navigation and site structure to
  • Emphasized introducing the mission of SU2C and how any donations would be used.
  • Provided resources to establish best-in-breed Spanish content on cancer issues, awareness and prevention.
  • De-emphasized the prominent "Donate Now" calls to action on the English site and focused on a phone call primary message.

Overall, the goal was to introduce and build trust, not to elicit donations.

Issue No. 6 - Long-Term Strategy
With a successful Web strategy and introduction of the SU2C / UCEE brand, our focus in 2009 and beyond is to expand and more aggressively make a connection with Hispanics in the U.S. and Latin America, specifically starting in Mexico.

SU2C has approached the Hispanic market deliberately and thoughtfully, looking at building long-term relationships with this important community instead of a reactive, one-time touch point. Organizations looking at entering the Hispanic market can learn from SU2C's research-driven, phased approach.

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