By Audrey Kemp, LA Reporter

October 5, 2023 | 4 min read

Starring TikTok star Jason Patton, the national campaign takes a lighthearted approach to promoting early cancer detection among firefighters.

DetecTogether, a non-profit dedicated to promoting early cancer detection and prevention, released a national education campaign targeting firefighters.

The campaign is informed by data from the Firefighter Cancer Support Network, which suggests that occupational cancer is the leading cause of line-of-duty deaths in the fire service and firefighters are 14% more likely to die from cancer than the general population.

Despite these grim statistics, DetecTogether’s campaign makes light of the situation by showcasing the hidden musical talents and dance moves of firefighters. In center view is Jason Patton, a firefighter and paramedic whose Fire Department Chronicles series has nearly 2 million followers on social media, accompanied by other Fire Department of New York (FDNY) first responders. The videos were filmed at the Fire Department of New York’s training academy on Randall’s Island.

“Our jobs are incredibly serious,” Patton said. “Lives are on the line. So, between jobs, while we’re at the firehouse, we like to lighten things up. And that’s exactly what DetecTogether’s videos do: using comedy to get firefighters taking action against cancer.”

The PSA also introduces firefighters to DetecTogether’s simple roadmap to early cancer detection, called ‘3 Steps Detect.‘ The organization describes the process as:

  1. Know Your Great: know what ‘great’ feels like for your personal health

  2. Use the 2-Week Rule: seek medical attention for persistent subtle health changes lasting two weeks

  3. Share With Your Doctor: share changes in your health, even if they are uncomfortable or embarrassing

Tricia Laursen, president and executive director of DetecTogether, commented: “We want every firefighter to use 3 Steps Detect because it can save their lives and we want every person to know about it, too. This campaign is part of our ultimate goal to bring the lifesaving advantage of early cancer detection to the entire population.”

The second film also leverages humor to spread awareness, as Patton picks on his fellow firefighter, O’Malley, and holds a dummy:

The organization tapped Chicago-based ad agency VSA Partners to ideate and develop the campaign, which refreshes its existing ‘Response Time Matters’ campaign

“The campaign hinges on two ideas critical to breaking into the firefighter audience: humor and authenticity,” said Mike Lee, director of strategy at VSA. “By partnering with Patton – who’s known for his comedic content – and the FDNY, the campaign delivers on both.”

The campaign was made possible with additional support from EMW-2021-FP-00573,1A Auto, Last Call Foundation, Powertech Controls, the Fire Department of the City of New York (FDNY), Firefighter Cancer Support Network and the Center for Fire, Rescue & EMS Research.

Its media plan, executed by Prohaska Consulting, provides DetecTogether with 12 months of fresh content that will run across digital, paid social, influencer channels and search. The refreshed campaign augments the existing organic components – like kits for fire stations that contain edgy, informative posters about the early signs of cancer.


Creative agency: VSA Partners

Production company: Maday Productions

Media planning company: Prohaska Consulting

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