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Denise Halloran
Director of Marketing and Communications
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Press Statement About the Breast Cancer Fund's "Obsessed with Breasts" Ad Campaign

Obsessed With Breasts Billboard Ad

In January 2000, the Breast Cancer Fund launched Obsessed With Breasts, a daring public awareness campaign that ignited controversy and comment around the world.

For Immediate Release: January 2000
Contacts: Greg Baird, Sperling Sampson West: 415.421.4440; Andrea R. Martin, Executive Director, the Breast Cancer Fund: 415.346.8223

The Breast Cancer Fund (TBCF) is launching its "Obsessed with Breasts" public awareness campaign in bus shelters around the San Francisco Bay Area in an effort to increase awareness of this epidemic and to encourage more public involvement in the issues of breast cancer prevention, treatment and detection. The campaign acknowledges the harsh fact that the San Francisco Bay Area has one of the highest rates of breast cancer in a world in which incidence of the number one cancer among women is steadily increasing.

The bus shelter advertisements, whose creation and placement were donated to TBCF by BBDO West and Outdoor Services, were designed to capture the viewer's attention and change the way we think and act about breast cancer. The ads challenge the obsession with the female breast as an object -- in t he belief that until our culture more appropriately honors women and their bodies, we will never defeat a disease that attacks its most profound symbol of sexuality and nurture.

The bold images of the campaign reveal the scars of mastectomy, an aspect of the breast cancer epidemic that is all too real for millions of women. They are meant not only to provoke honest discussion about prevailing attitudes toward women's breasts, but also to inspire more public involvement in the issue of breast cancer.

Without more public involvement,

  • environmental causes of the disease will continue to be ignored,
  • prevention will continue to be left out of our country's public health policy,
  • detection with x-rays will continue to be the gold standard,
  • treatment will continue to be toxic and debilitating, and
  • the epidemic will continue to grow.

Key Goals of the Campaign

  1. To increase awareness and involve the public in breast cancer issues.
  2. To replace fear of the disease with the desire to act.
  3. To educate and provide ways for people to act.
  4. To prompt and answer questions from children and young adults about the disease.

The "Obsessed with Breasts" campaign leads viewers to TBCF's website (, where they can connect with critical information and ways to become more involved in the issue -- for their own benefit and that of their loved ones and communities -- including questions and answers about breast cancer for school age children. The Q&As were mailed, along with this statement, to school districts in the San Francisco Bay Area where the ads will first appear in approximately 30 bus shelters, for six weeks beginning mid-January.

The Breast Cancer Fund realizes that the campaign's images may shock or disturb some people, including children and teenagers. But the real outrage is the growing spread of breast cancer. Every day, the disease touches more and more women and families -- demanding that we find ways to cope with its reality. It is TBCF's hope that with supportive information, like that provided in this campaign and our other programs, people will become more empowered to face the disease.

America is obsessed with breasts. We should be no less obsessed with eradicating the disease that afflicts them. Movies, television, magazines and newspapers are full of images of partially clothed and fully exposed female breasts. TBCF's campaign lifts the polite veil separating these images from breast cancer -- like "Saving Private Ryan" lifted the veil on the realities of war -- and brings us in touch with the very real consequences of the disease.

Breast cancer is a battle that we have only begun to fight. By facing up to the "enemy," with more open dialogue and personal commitment, we are much more likely to win the war sooner rather than later. This is the spirit and intent of the "Obsessed with Breasts" campaign.

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