Quebec Breast Cancer Foundation says that cancer affects more than boomers

Who: The Quebec Breast Cancer Foundation, with Upperkut for creative, Seiya for digital and Canide for PR.

What: “Breast Cancer Isn’t Just for Boomers/C’est pas just un cancer de matante,” a new awareness campaign encouraging women 30-49 to learn how to check their breasts for possible signs of cancer.

When & Where: The campaign launched March 14, running through April 24 across online, social and display, supported by PR and influencer marketing.

Why: While often associated with older women, breast cancer is actually the most diagnosed cancer in people 30 and 49, and accounts for 17% of all cancer deaths.

The Quebec Breast Cancer Foundation says that young women tend to feel “nonchalant” about the disease, which can exacerbate the problem. The goal is to alert them that they too are at risk for breast cancer, and encourage them to get information that can help them recognize the signs and symptoms of the disease.

How: The campaigns uses visuals of activities typically associated with older people—knitting, pottery, and needlepoint—to deliver the message that breast cancer doesn’t just affect older women.

Ads show items made during those activities that prominently feature breasts, accompanied by the message “[Knitting, needlepoint, pottery] isn’t just for boomers. Neither is breast cancer.” All of the ads sign-off with the message “Check your breasts. You’re not too young.”

Okay boomer: The ads have been criticized by some Quebecers for their use of the words “boomer” and “matante” (or “aunt”), with some saying the latter term in particular is a pejorative that generally means outdated and out-of-touch.

La Presse reported that the Quebec Breast Cancer Foundation’s Facebook page has seen descriptions of the advertising as “clumsy, insulting, distressing or sexist.” One poster said they couldn’t believe women had come up with the slogan, while another questioned why it was necessary to “insult”one group of women to speak to another.

The Foundation said its use of the terms “matante” and “boomer” is not intended to stigmatize older women, who are also affected by breast cancer, but to elicit a reaction and awareness among younger women. They may have seen older women around them, including aunts, living with breast cancer and do not necessarily think that they too could get the disease.

And we quote: “In recent years, we have noticed at the Foundation that younger and younger women are being diagnosed with breast cancer. The situation is worrying and we consider it our duty to act and to circulate information so that young women feel concerned earlier about the disease and are vigilant in front of the signs and symptoms. This is all the more important since breast cancer is usually more aggressive in young women.” — Karine-Iseult Ippersiel, president and CEO, Quebec Breast Cancer Foundation

Chris Powell