ASA to investigate “offensive and distressing” Pancreatic Cancer Action ads

The charity Pancreatic Cancer Action is facing censure over its ads that suggested other types of cancer were not as serious or difficult to deal with after the ad regulator received 119 complaints claiming that the ads were “offensive and distressing”. 

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The ASA is to investigate Pancreatic Cancer Action’s marketing campaign

The Advertising Standards Authority says many of the complainants were cancer patients or knew someone who had suffered from cancer. It will now assess whether the ads were at odds with the advertising code.

The campaign, which ran in print earlier this month, showed pancreatic cancer sufferers saying they wished they had other forms of the disease. The campaign highlighted the low survival rates for pancreatic cancer compared with other more common cancers and included straplines such as “I wish I had breast cancer” and “I wish I had cervical cancer”.

The charity also posted a video on YouTube and promoted the campaign, which was created by ad agency Team Darwin, on social media.

At the time, other cancer charities criticised the campaign, saying that while they understood the intention of the ads, charities should be working together to cure all forms of the disease.

Pancreatic Cancer Action did apologise to anyone upset by the campaign but said it needed to raise awareness of the disease. It launched a follow-up on 10 February focused on the symptoms people should look out for.

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