Warriors in Pink: Ford Motor Company’s Breast Cancer Initiative.

Writer: Lauren Crane, Art Director: Linda Meek, Photo: Peggy Day


The phrase Warriors in Pink came from an organic place. While writing a commercial using existing Race for the Cure footage, I was blown away by an overhead shot that looked like an army overtaking a city. An army of warriors, courageous and strong, fighting the battle against breast cancer. Only this army wore pink, and  hugged a lot. Warriors in Pink. A small thought that launched a huge campaign.

By huge, I not only mean the usual big time advertising stuff — television, TV integrations, a websitesocial media and events (Komen Race for the Cure), but passionate customer and “fan” involvement. Some women have tattooed Warrior symbols onto their bodies, some have made clothing from Warrior bandanas, An elementary school principal  in Texas, a two-time breast cancer survivor, held a Warriors in Pink day. And Warriors in Pink has a full line of wear and gear. Ford gives 100% of the net proceeds to breast cancer charities, which has added up to over 100 million dollars. You can buy all things Warriors in Pink at fordcares.com.

We’ve done a lot of work. By we, I mean my Art Director partner, Linda Meek and I. Our team of designers. Our account and brand content team. Our clients. I put a few of my favorite things on the following pages.  If you’d like to see more, just google. Warriors in Pink remains a project that has a great deal of meaning to me because it’s making a real difference. To date, Ford has dedicated more than $130 million to help fight breast cancer.

The people behind Warriors in Pink in its infancy were Kerry Doyle and Curt Jaksen on the account/brand content side. Clients Connie Fontaine and Mary Lou Quesnell. Art Director, Linda Meek and designer, Christine Jones.

The first ad set the stage for what now is a brand in its second decade. We’ve created a lot of ads over the years, but this one says it all to me. This campaign is about the fierce feminine warrior. Breast cancer is largely a disease fought by women. And women who fight it find their inner badass. Ok, that badass isn’t really hidden. Women bear and raise children. Many do this while juggling work and household. And some do all of that and fight cancer too. I have interviewed dozens of women who have fought the disease. I am humbled and when I feel I must grumble about my life, they give me great pause.

Warriors in Pink TV spots

Writer: Lauren Crane    Art Director: Linda Meek    Producer: Stephen Palmer    Director: Mark Pellington    Editor: Duncan Shephard

My Wife/My Life

A husband struggles with his wife’s pain as she goes through chemotherapy. (spot plays below)

My Sister/My Self

A woman supports her younger sister as she faces breast cancer. (spot plays below)

Wear and Gear Promotion

Warriors in Pink has solicited the help of many celebrities. Jennifer Aniston came onboard when Warriors in Pink was integrated into the film she produced for Lifetime television. The film, FIVE depicted five different stories about women and their loved-ones dealing with breast cancer. The month this spot, the integration and other advertising and PR ran, Warriors in Pink wear and gear flew off of the shelves. Thousands of items were on backorder. The total dollar amount sold during the month, not including backorders, was over $860,000 which translated into a $560,000 donation. Estimates that include backorders double that amount.

Warriors in Pink has been integrated into dozens of television shows and movies. There is a huge spike in sales of Warriors in Pink wear and gear when we are ins hows. The more wear and gear sold, the more dollars go to support breast cancer charities. These ads represent just a few of many.

Ford’s partnership with Melissa Etheridge

 The idea of Warriors in Pink was first expressed as a song lyric. It seemed natural for me to write it that way* and it ended up being a great selling tool. It was emotional, people “got it” and saw its potential right away. We thought of Warriors in Pink, not only as a great handle for branding Ford’s breast cancer initiative, but as a movement, a way to gather people behind a good cause. And what does every good cause need? An anthem, of course. Melissa Etheridge, her head still bald from chemotherapy, had just delivered a moving performance on the Grammy Awards, so she seemed like the ideal singer/songwriter to approach. Within three weeks of creating the concept, we sold both the idea of Warriors in Pink and the idea of having Melissa Etheridge write and record a song that would be used for inspiration and hope for those battling breast cancer. Ford would pay for the song, with rights to use it in advertising, and rights for the Race for the Cure to use it indefinitely. Melissa wrote the song, I Run for Life. She included it (as a last-minute addition) on her greatest hits album. It became the #1 single on the album. It flew up the charts and she played it on Oprah, Letterman, Good Morning America, everywhere. She referred to it as her gift from Ford. You can find I Run for Life on itunes. Below is the PSA she did to encourage women to do breast self-exams. The LA Times reported it like this. This was a transitional time, six months before we actually launched Warriors in Pink. 
*What happened to my lyrics? They did a good job helping us sell the idea and were retired to a folder. Somewhere. They did a very good job.

Warriors in Pink Models of Courage.

We’ve done so much work in this space, but for me, the most rewarding part was when we created the Warriors in Pink Models of Courage. Since Ford is a car company, not a group of breast cancer experts, we decided to put breast cancer survivors front and center. They are the genuine voice. They are the people who can help others. So we asked them to model clothing, share their experiences and make tv and hometown appearances. You can meet the current models at fordcares.com. Above are our first group models. This group and the one that followed are people who remain very near to my heart. Flow Non-fiction worked with us to make videos about the program and individual models, Tina, Ruby, Lisa, and Carol. There’s more to see on the Warriors in Pink YouTube channel.