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Campaign aims to "nudge" people to get screened early for cancer
Just one example of a nudge-o-gram included in the campaign: the spastic cat.

Highmark is taking a humorous approach to raising awareness about cancer screenings in the launch of its nudge campaign.


In its “nudge kit,” people can create memes, personal messages and funny faces to send to loved ones as a way to nudge them to go get a cancer screening.


There are many nudge-o-grams customizable with different images like the spastic cat, drill sergeant and bulldog – and templates for notes, coupons and straight-up bribes to send to someone and “nudge” them to get a cancer screening.

Patrick Nace, lead marketing strategist at Highmark, says the strategy behind the campaign put an emphasis on the importance of cancer screenings: and that they’re covered by most health insurance companies.

“You know when we want our loved ones to go get their screening they may have some reticence and so what we wanted to do was overcome that with a lighter touch, with humor and fun," I know it sounds strange to pair fun with cancer but we wanted it to be both memorable and engaging. We called it the nudge campaign in the sense that a nudge is the opposite of a nag.”


He also said that cancer is the most feared, causing people to procrastinate getting issues of concern checked out. 1 in 3 people are late in getting screened, but early screening can increase the survival rate in many cases to 90% or higher.


David Demuth runs the advertising agency Donor that worked with Highmark to develop the funny memes. He said they wanted to give people the tools to nudge – but not nag - those procrastinators in their lives to go get a cancer screening.


“There’s always that person in your life: that might be your wife, your friend, your brother, your sister, your mother, you know…someone in the office who is sort of nudging you to go get that screening. In my life it’s my wife," he said. "She’s the secretary of health in our house.”

Bonnie Gordon, Executive Director of Susan G Komen Chicago, emphasized the importance of cancer screenings.

She knows from firsthand experience: she caught her breast cancer early on in a self exam before it spread to her lymph nodes. For breast cancer - according to Gordon there’s a 99% five year survival rate if the cancer is found in stage 0-1 before it moves to the lymph nodes.


“That is the No. 1 most important tool that we have is trying to find cancer early," she said. "Trying to find these diseases that are much more difficult to treat – and to cure – if we find them later.”


The Highmark campaign is not limited to breast cancer, however, and includes information on several types of cancer including lung cancer, cervical cancer and skin cancer among others.


The nudge kit – and information on appropriate ages and times to screen for different types of cancer – can be found online at



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