Breast Cancer PSAs Raise Eyebrows

"Save the Boobs" campaign may raise hackles. But does it work?

September 22, 2009, 11:06 PM

Sept. 23, 2009 -- "Save the boobs" is one tag line.

"If men had breasts they'd appreciate them" is another.

"I pledge allegiance to my girls. To my cheechees, to my hooters, to my tatas. And to tell my doctor about any changes I see or feel immediately."

Are these breast cancer awareness PSAs or bits of dialogue from a fraternity comedy?

M.J. Decoteau, founder of Rethink Breast Cancer, says her organization had to find a way to reach young people who believe they're invincible to a disease that, in reality, is the leading cause of cancer deaths in young women.

"The spots are definitely not for everyone," she says. "Young people are picking up pamphlets with a 65-year-old woman on the cover and probably tossing them out. We're really about creating a bold way of communicating the message in a fun way that's going to stop them in their tracks. We're hoping that they get the take-away message that is to be breast aware."

Decoteau says the PSAs also ironically target and poke fun at men -- but only because they can be part of the solution.

"We hear time and time again from women who have found a lump in their breast that they asked their husbands or their boyfriends to get involved when they're scared to check," she says. "We encourage women to get their partners involved."

But not everyone believes "Save Boobs" is going to save lives.

"It's pretty offensive," one woman told "Good Morning America." "It looks like it's a Victoria's Secret or a bathing suit ad. Not an ad about women's health."

Breast Cancer Awareness Ads Stand Out

The ad made at least one man laugh, but it didn't make him think.

"I think the video grabs attention, it's very proactive sexually, but I don't know if it will communicate the dangers of breast cancer to men who might be compelled to give their wives an exam," he said. "Breast cancer is a very serious matter, and I don't think it should be taken lightly and made fun of."

Because more and more causes are fighting to get their messages heard, it looks as though shocking PSAs are here to stay.

Lung cancer gets 10 times less funding than breast cancer, so one awareness group turned to lingerie in its PSA.

And the PSA designed to scare teens straight about texting and driving showed an incredibly violent car crash.

And actress Keira Knightley put on one of her best performances in a disturbing PSA about domestic violence.

But are these shocking PSA messages sinking in?

Actually they are, says advertising columnist Dan Neil.

"They will offend some people, but in the end. they will be memorable," he says. "People will act on the memory of these ads."