In 2007, cancer took the life of my company’s co-founder and creative director (and my good friend), Mike Connell. Mike’s fight was personal to our agency and we wanted to honor him in a way that was impactful. So, in 2008, we created the Be Bold, Be Bald! cancer fundraising event.
The idea is simple. We encourage people from all over the country to “go bald” (wear a bald cap) in a show of solidarity for those who don’t have a choice in losing their hair. Similar to a bike ride or road race, participants encourage friends and family to sponsor them for going bald. The event has been highly successful. But, for some, it can strike the wrong nerve.
Today, as we prepare for our fifth annual Be Bold, Be Bald! cancer fundraiser on October 18, I can’t help but think back to some of the initial feedback we received when we shared the idea.
Some marketing professionals professed:
“I think others might be offended by it.”
Some executives suggested:
“Why not just do a bike ride or run, like everyone else.”
“It excludes people, because not everyone who has cancer loses their hair.”
For many organizations, this feedback would have been enough to kill the idea. But, instead, it was comments like these that inspired us to move forward. (That, and a conversation I had with our client, Lee Iacocca, who encouraged me to move forward despite what others thought.) If you try to please everyone, it is likely that no one will truly be pleased.
Now (five years, 40 beneficiaries, thousands of participants and more than $600,000 later), our original critics have changed their tune. In fact, most of them are now an integral part of Be Bold, Be Bald! (and many will tell you “I always thought it was a great idea!”)
However, naysayers still exist. In the midst of the hundreds of positive letters and emails we get regarding the program (mostly from cancer survivors and their families), we do get a few that claim “this is the most insensitive thing I have ever seen.” To them, I thank them for their honesty, remind them of the ultimate intent of the program (honor those who fight cancer and raise money to help fight back), and encourage them to participate in a run, walk or something more appropriate to them.
So, the next time someone tells you to kill an idea because it may not appeal to 1% of the audience, remember that bold ideas can make an impact. Don’t be afraid to run with them.
And, while I have you, please help us make Be Bold, Be Bald! a continued success by participating in the event, sponsoring me or simply encouraging others to do either (via social media, email, etc.).