Clubs promote opportunity to help cancer patients

Brandon Le, a senior majoring in business administration, and Felipe Vargas, a junior majoring in film and television production, helped produce a promotional video for USC’s American Cancer Society. (Photo courtesy of Emily Heuring)

The Trojan Marketing Group recently collaborated with the American Cancer Society of Los Angeles to develop a digital campaign in the Los Angeles area. The campaign was created to promote ACS’s “Road to Recovery,” which provides transportation for cancer patients who need to be driven to treatment centers.

Since last September, TMG has been working closely with ACS to convey the program’s message. According to Dan Witzling, executive director of ACS’s Los Angeles chapter, the goal of the campaign is to increase awareness of how volunteering can create more affordable transportation for those diagnosed with cancer.

“At the most basic level, the need is that there are more cancer patients that are requesting rides and treatments than what we have been able to provide and that is through any means,” Witzling said. “Next to the cost of treatments, transportation is one of the single highest barriers to care.”

To recruit new drivers through the campaign, TMG began with market research to determine why individuals are not currently volunteering. At the end of their research, the group concluded that the perception of volunteers being “held to the standard of saints” prevented others to not envision themselves as eligible to volunteer, according to creative director Hannah Nowak.

With this new insight, Nowak and her colleagues began planning for the digital commercial towards their targeted age group of caregiver-type females ages 35 to 55 in the Los Angeles area.

Video producer Kris Nguyen coordinated with the other TMG members to host an on-campus casting call in March to promote to Los Angeles-area casting agencies for the roles. Nguyen shared how the project provided insight into how to create a full-scale advertising campaign.

“It was an illuminating process because it was the first time for me doing something for a client this big and with a project that requires a lot of attention to detail [… and] learning how to deal with clients and how they spend their money,” Nguyen said.

After researching and brainstorming, TMG practiced pitching their final concept in front of a panel of industry professionals and professors to provide constructive feedback before the final pitch to ACS Board of Directors. The final video features two separate mothers helping their children get ready in the morning before school, and while one of the mothers is out on the road, she picks up the second mother to take her to her cancer treatment.

“They really try to emphasize in the campaign that both of the moms are struggling in the morning,” TMG vice president Emily Heuring said. “It is not perfect, it’s rushed, they are helping their kids with their homework like they are not some superhero — they are like a mom.  We wanted people to be able to relate with both of them so that they felt like they would be good enough to do this themselves.”

This is the first time TMG has worked with the ACS; however, the group has collaborated with other clients including start-ups, clothing brands and food industries. Nowak explained how on each project, the group specializes on the particular industry they are marketing for with a clear demographic. For this campaign, TMG had to determine what the ideal messaging and demographic of the campaigns should be.

“To have to do that for each different campaign is always really unique, but for this campaign specifically, it was really difficult for us to find what type of demographic we actually want to get,” Nowak said. “We could target Uber drivers -— they have free time, like they are willing to drive — but we needed something more nurturing. I think that was the most unique part of the campaign to find that type of person. And people that are willing to donate their time.”

After months of pitching and reviewing the corporate structure of the ACS, Witzling shared the finalized video that will be launched soon. Distribution will start in Los Angeles with aspirations to expand the advertisement campaign nationwide.

Witzling looks forward to the release of the campaign and reflected on his positive experience working with TMG to forward the message of the ACS.  

“Coming from that level and what they were able to do at a very highly professional level,” Witzling said. “The volunteer board was very impressed, the staff was impressed definitely at the level of some other major marketing concepts that we’ve seen in some very advanced companies we get involved with. They definitely took great pride in their work and you could see that and we were pretty pleased with the outcome.”