Friday, December 18, 2009

Thyroid Cancer. Don't Do It.

Oh. My. God. Are you looking at this ad from People magazine? Look closer. It's confusing, embarrassing, creepy and wrong on so many levels I'm not sure what to say. Even the use of colors is sort of creepy.

So, as you can see, a teenage girl is verbalizing some thoughts. Then, under the colorful, fun block letters, in smaller script , it says: "Rachel Kramer, 14, the day before she was diagnosed with thyroid cancer."

Setting aside the fact that it is highly doubtful someone happened to be around to note some of Rachel Kramer's words the day BEFORE she got diagnosed with thyroid cancer and also to quickly sketch her wistful half-smile as she dreamt of "cute upper classmen", the scare-tactic premise behind this ad is completely horrifying in and of itself. The company should be ashamed.

But even worse is what you can't see at the bottom of the page (which my scanner cut off). It says "Confidence kills. Thyroid cancer can happen to anyone. Including you. It doesn't care how healthy you are. That's why it's the fastest-increasing cancer in the U.S. Ask your doctor to check your neck. It could save your life."

Confidence Kills? This is something you want to tell a 14 year old girl, who is already probably rife with self-esteem, body issues, and the general angst that goes with being a teen?

Well, I had to write a letter:

To Whom it May Concern,

I am lucky and do not have thyroid cancer (that I know of). However, I did recently see a very unfortunate ad in People magazine promoting this website (It has an illustration of a teen girl, purportedly of poor Rachel Kramer). While I am absolutely certain you are trying to promote a good cause, the tone of the ad--which is clearly targeted at teens (and all of the angst and anxiety that comes along with them)--and the scare tactic approach is distasteful, horrifying and fairly disgusting (not to mention the poor execution and questionable illustration choice).

But most offensive is the tagline at the bottom of the page and on this very web site, which is "Confidence Kills." This is a poor choice for so many reasons. But I would say the most glaring reason this is a poor choice is due to the general state of mind of teen girls. As I am sure you are well aware, many young girls struggle with self-image and confidence issues. To use a tagline such as "Confidence Kills" seems like a very poor choice considering your target audience. I am a 29 year old female and found it offensive.

Confidence does not kill. Confidence enables people to stand tall and proud, to seek out professions and ideas that nurture them and help them grow. But most of all, SOMEONE THAT IS CONFIDENT IS SOMEONE THAT TAKES CARE OF THEIR BODY AND HEALTH, someone that is likely to check themselves for signs of melanoma (another quickly growing cancer), check their neck and check their breasts. It is someone riddled with confidence issues that's more likely to ignore symptoms and regular health checks.

Confidence does not kill. It saves. You might consider trying a different approach next time. One that promotes your cause in a useful way rather than a detrimental way.

Rachel Wiles

Fucking Idiots.

Good day to you all.


  1. Pretty unbelievable! They are effing idiots. The marketing person who came up with this campaign and the higher ups that approved it are off their rockers......they may need to have their thyroids checked as that can affect all sytems--including the ability to think clearly.

  2. I couldn't agree with you more on this one! I don't subscribe to People magazine, but if you'll send me the contact information for the company, I'll write a letter myself! (Although I'm sure my letter could not possibly compare to yours!)

    Confidence doesn't kill. Ignorance kills.

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  4. I found your post searching for thyroid cancer. My 19 yo sister has recurring thyroid cancer. I know 3 other people who have it, including my mother. They all had radiation & were fine. My sister, who was first diagnosed as a sophomore in HS, is iodine resistant & the cancer came back. Now she's fighting for her life.

    I actually could sympathize with the ad, at least the part that's showing in your scan. It seems like that's how things went. First, she was a teenager in HS & then she wasn't & everything was different.

    The "Confidence Kills" seems misplaced though. I agree with Miss Kriss that "Ignorance Kills". Even though we were told that this is one of the "best" cancers to have (if there is such a thing), if its recurring, its horrible.

    Great post!


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