‘Got ladyballs?’ Ovarian cancer campaign a bit too ‘ballsy’ for some

"Women have balls too. And they're at risk.". Ovarian Cancer Canada

It’s a campaign with cojones.

Or “ladyballs,” as Ovarian Cancer Canada is calling the female gonads — much to the chagrin of some of their followers.

“Women have balls too. And they’re at risk,” the group’s latest video states, referring to women’s ovaries.

“Have the ladyballs to do something about it.”

A number of women say the tagline has left them “stunned” and “offended.”

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“Yes, I am aware that ovarian cancer needs to be discussed. Got it; you’re trying to be clever. I am a woman with ovaries. Not a woman with a lady ‘balls,'” Heather Doherty wrote on Facebook, adding that she found the ad sexist and insulting.

Ah yes,” added Cleo Neville. “Because equating courage and strength to male anatomy is what every woman wants.”

Not everyone is upset about the ad, though.

“Some love it, some hate it, but either way, people are talking about it, which is always the goal of cause-related campaigns,” said Karen Cinq Mars, VP of Marketing at Ovarian Cancer Canada.

Marketing experts agree that based on the increased awareness alone, the campaign seems to be a success.

“In the past, campaigns could win awards based on artistic characteristics; whether or not they are effective in delivering the desired objective seemed incidental. That has changed. Campaigns should be and are evaluated based on effectiveness,” said Angela Y. Lee, chair of  Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management

“And this one seems to be getting on people’s radar even though the reactions are not all positive.”

Behind the campaign

Over the course of the past year, five different campaigns were tested with a sample group of 1,000 Canadians. The ladyballs campaign performed best.

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Those surveyed described it with words like empowered, strong, curious, proud and important.

  • 77% said the campaign was compelling.
  • 70% said it made them think of ovarian cancer in a new way.

Mars explained that rather than focussing on sad facts to illicit sympathy, Ovarian Cancer Canada chose to focus “on the strength of survivors and the power we all have to do something about women’s most fatal cancer.”

“To say that someone has ‘the balls to do something’ automatically elicits thoughts of an individual who is daring, brave or courageous.

“Some assign this term to men, but in our opinion these traits apply to people regardless of gender. Women have balls too, literally female gonads are in fact our ovaries.

“Ovaries, ladyballs, gonads — regardless of your term of choice – the important thing is to talk about them.”

About ovarian cancer

The disease has been called a “silent killer.” It claims the lives of five Canadian women every day.

There is no reliable test for it yet.

Symptoms of ovarian cancer include:

• Persistent stomach pain.
• Persistent bloating.
• Finding it difficult to eat or feeling full quickly.
• Needing to pee more often.
• Back pain.
• Changes to bowel habits (constipation or diarrhea).
• Feeling tired all the time.

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If you notice any new symptoms that persist for three weeks or longer, you should speak to your doctor.

Women over 50 are generally more at risk for ovarian cancer, but those in their 30s have also been affected by it.

“Because there’s not an awareness about it, because the symptoms are so so vague, it gets caught too late,” 35-year-0ld Erin Barrett told Global News last month.

READ MORE: The story of a B.C. woman’s fight with ovarian cancer strikes a nerve and goes viral

The Vancouver woman had to get her left ovary, fallopian tube, and a nearly six-pound tumour removed when she gave birth last September.

“So often, women, you go into your doctor and you say, ‘I’m having bowel troubles.’ And they dismiss it as IBS. It’s so easy to dismiss the symptoms as something else.”

“That’s when I want women to keep pushing and say, ‘no that doesn’t feel right, I’m going to go back.’”

Barrett is set to start radiation at the end of this month.

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— With files from Amy Judd, Global News

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