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AVON 39’s New Campaign Recruits Warriors to Crush Breast Cancer

Posted May 11, 2017

AVON 39 Wants YOU. AVON 39’s new 2017 campaign is recruiting Warriors to crush breast cancer is inspired by the gritty, tough and fierce approach mimicking Uncle Sam’s “We Want You.”

Celebrating its 15th season, AVON 39 The Walk to End Breast Cancer is a challenge that asks for everything you’ve got – and rewards you with blisters, sore muscles and “Warrior” status.

The event series has raised over $620 million since 2003 and has seen nearly 235,000 men and women across the country participating. In 2016 alone, the Avon Breast Cancer Crusade awarded a total of 58 grants at the seven AVON 39 events – ranging from $50,000 to $2.75 million – to leading cancer centers, research institutions and community-based organizations in the Walk regions.

The campaign features real AVON 39 participants (39ers) like Laura Whitaker, who embodies the strength of breast cancer survivors and fierceness of 39ers in the Walk’s new “Warriors Wanted” campaign.

Whitaker has been breast cancer-free for a year now and is dedicated to helping create a world without breast cancer. A true Warrior, Whitaker fought breast cancer while working three business ventures – one as an AVON Representative – to support her family, including two college-age sons.

Last year, she walked 34 miles of the AVON 39 in New York City just after receiving word of remission. This year she’s determined to walk all 39 miles – while her blisters may be temporary, she believes the pride from completing the walk and helping end breast cancer is a badge of courage she’ll wear forever. Her family has already raised over $4,000 for the 2017 AVON 39 Walk in New York City.

DIVERGE talked to Jill Surdyka, Director, Community Engagement, Avon Breast Cancer Crusade and Laura Whitaker to find out more:

Why are you passionate about this campaign?

Surdyka: AVON 39 is a two-day, 39.3 mile walk. The 39 represents the marathon and a half our walkers walk. Our walkers and volunteers come together with one goal – to obliterate breast cancer – and together raise funds that will help to power more research, more screenings and more survivors. That’s the power of 39.

Our AVON 39 branding demonstrates the passion and perseverance of our walkers, volunteers and beneficiaries. This walk is not easy. But ending breast cancer isn’t either. Putting that spirit and toughness at the forefront of our campaign celebrates our participants, in a big, bold and more direct way than ever before.

Avon is the title sponsor of AVON 39 The Walk to End Breast Cancer. Avon knows that women cannot be truly empowered until their health and safety are guaranteed. For that reason, Avon is dedicated to a mission of improving women’s lives. And that includes being part of AVON 39.

We feature our walkers and crew (including Avon Associates and Representatives) in our advertising and creative materials because they ARE the face of AVON 39. They have powerful stories. They fundraise, talk about and participate in our event. They represent who we are and what we want to accomplish.

Where did the idea of this campaign come from?

Surdyka: The 2017 Warriors Wanted theme is based on some of the best recruitment campaigns the world has ever seen – such as the iconic Uncle Sam “We Want You” campaign. The driving idea behind “Warriors Wanted” is that when you register to be an AVON 39er, you are embarking on an experience that will be personally transformational and also make a direct impact in the breast cancer community – locally and nationally. Together, 39ers are fierce and join together to help take breast cancer down.

Where did the warriors wanted concept come from?

Surdyka: “Warriors Wanted” is based on the transformational aspect of AVON 39 The Walk to End Breast Cancer – asking you to dig deep in order to rise high. To be a Warrior means you have a mindset and state of being that says you are ready to take on anything that comes your way.

What is a “Warrior”? It’s another moniker for “39er”: It’s a spirit and a mentality. It symbolizes the Walk’s essence at its core: a “fierce” determination to obliterate breast cancer.

What do you hope to accomplish from this campaign?

Surdyka: Warriors Wanted is our call to action. We want to inspire and motivate people to register for one of our seven events around the country, and bring their friends and family.

We know that AVON 39 walkers, crew and volunteers are drawn toward a “Warrior mentality.” They:

Dig deep in order to rise high

Want to be part of something bigger than themselves

Are both inspired by and aspiring to the idea of creating a world without breast cancer

Want to challenge themselves to be better than they were yesterday

Are constantly looking for a way to better world around them

The campaign taps into the gritty, irreverent, tough, strong and fun aspects of the Walks that are the hallmark of AVON 39 The Walk to End Breast Cancer’s brand.

Why did you decide to take part in this campaign?

Whitaker: I spent the whole weekend either laughing or crying at last year’s AVON 39 walk. When I decided to walk, my sister and cousin (two of my biggest supporters and best friends) decided to join me.  As we started our fundraising another one of my cousins, who is a survivor, asked to join our team.  That’s how we started our team, “We are family, I have all my tatas with me.”  Alongside them, and the rest of my family, I walked 34 of the 39 miles in 2016. My sister, who was on crutches just a week before, managed to walk 19 miles (in pain the whole time! – she was amazing).  That weekend, though a tough walk, was a phenomenal experience. I took part in this campaign for me, but also for my sister and cousins, for my team, and for my cheer squad (my mom and aunt). I truly believe in the strong and positive impact that AVON 39 has on people with breast cancer. The resources of mammograms and funds for treatments is saving lives.  This year, because my team has talked about what an inspirational experience AVON 39 was, we have two more cousins joining our team, one whose sister is currently undergoing treatment for a second time.

How did your personal experience affect your passion about this?

Whitaker: Blisters are temporary, fierce is forever. That mantra of the walk also applies to my personal experience. Metaphorically, I’ve walked more than 39 miles since my breast cancer diagnosis in June 2015 to my last treatment in March 2016. I had the help, the love, the support, and the financial means to take care of myself when I was sick. Some people don’t have that same support. That is what fuels my passion.

What is your advice for others going through this?

Whitaker: You are not alone. Fight.  Don’t be afraid to ask for help.  This is just a battle, you are a warrior meant to win the war.

How can others help?

Whitaker: Sign up on a team, make a donation, support other walkers, the list is endless really. If you don’t know what to do or how to support someone – ask. My son dyed his beard pink in support of breast cancer. I went to go watch his football game shortly after I got diagnosed and when he took off his helmet, I was laughing and crying in the stands.

Can you share your personal journey? How did you do this while working on three business ventures?

Whitaker: I am currently in remission; my last treatment was March 2016 and my scans have been looking good. In short, I did what I had to do but really all three of my business ventures were flexible and understood if I had to take a day off – sometimes you have to. My Avon business was especially flexible – I could fit that in when I had time or needed the extra earnings – the only person I had to ask for time off was myself!