Recruiting New Yorkers to help conquer the scourge of cancer
When AMDeC—a consortium of academic medical centers and research institutions in New York State—embarked on the largest observational study of cancer ever undertaken in New York City, it needed to recruit thousands of
New Yorkers from the major ethnic groups in the city—including members of the African-American, Caribbean-American, Puerto Rican, Dominican, Chinese and Russian communities—to participate in the 20-year project. Participation required a blood draw, an in-depth medical interview, and annual tracking of the health status of the participants. The National Cancer Institute was skeptical that a large, demographically-representative population could be successfully recruited in New York City based on many failed efforts in the past.
Geto & de Milly developed a grassroots outreach program through hundreds of community-based organizations and churches and formed a Community Advisory Board comprised of prominent health care professionals as well as influential leaders from diverse ethnic communities. Based on market research coordinated by our firm, we developed an imaginative public education campaign including advertisements in Spanish, Russian, Chinese and English. Our core strategy was to appeal to New Yorkers to participate in a study that, while it might not benefit them in their lifetime, would be a wonderful legacy to leave their children and grandchildren. One of the ads – all of which were conceived and written by Geto & de Milly – pictured a newborn baby with the caption, “Hopefully for her, cancer will just mean being born in July.”
Our firm recruited WNBC-TV to become the project’s media partner and created public service announcements featuring NBC on-air personalities. The pilot phase of the study successfully enrolled over 20,000 participants, exceeding both the study’s goals and the expectations of National Institutes of Health.