Voting for a Cure; April 1995; Scientific American Magazine; by Stix; 1 Page(s)
The world¿s toughest question blared in 117-point type across page B5 of the New York Times on January 19. Readers moving between a profile of Senator Alfonse D¿Amato of New York and the latest on the O. J. Simpson murder trial had their first--and probably their last--chance to cast a ballot for a remedy for cancer. For that day, a question that Ph.D.¿s have pondered for decades was reduced to a matter of near-religious faith: "I believe in tumor antigens," read a checkoff box at the bottom of the ad. "I believe in cancer vaccines," read another.
Madison Avenue advertising executive Steve Fenton created the full-page advertisement to raise the profile of his pro bono client, the Cancer Research Institute (CRI). This $5.4-million-a-year charity has, since 1953, raised money to find ways to marshal the human immune system¿s fight against malignant cells. Instead of the usual low-key, anonymous public-service approach, Fenton decided to combine the highbrow with the mundane. He placed words such as "tumor antigens" and "cytokines" in headline print. And in a direct steal from A&P store specials on asparagus spears, he put these titles, along with a brief explanatory text, in their own clip-out coupons that could be mailed in with a donation.