We TP’d the Hospital’s Trees. All for a Good Cause.

Wikipedia defines Toilet Papering (also called TP’ing, House Wrapping or Yard Rolling) as “the act of covering an object, such as a tree, house, or another structure with toilet paper. Toilet papering frequently takes place after the completion of a school’s homecoming football game or graduation and Halloween.”

Yup, TP’ing is about as American as The Three Stooges. And—unless you’re the TP’ed, as opposed to the TP’er—just as funny. Recently, we used this rite of passage as a way to showcase a very serious topic: colorectal cancer. Being screened for this highly preventable illness is important because colorectal cancer is generally more treatable when it is found early, before it has had a chance to spread.

In January, we presented the idea to our client, Greenville Hospital System, as an interesting, amusing and memorable way to get the word out to the public. They enthusiastically accepted it. Work began almost immediately on the creation of an integrated campaign that included TP’ing select trees at all of the hospital system’s campuses accompanied by banners, collateral support, DM, TV infomercials, radio and Facebook ads. The messaging throughout the campaign reads like this: “not getting screened for colorectal cancer is no joke.”

Ambient efforts that involved support from local doctors made it possible to increase awareness as they agreed to have their offices TP’ed for the cause. And toilet-paper rolls labeled “you might want to sit down for this” were distributed to primary care offices throughout GHS during March, which is national Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. Yesterday was the climax of the campaign that included a press conference and toilet papering the trees in various hospital locations.

Colorectal cancer is the third most common type of non-skin cancer in both men and women. It is the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States after lung cancer. More than 145,000 new cases were diagnosed and more than 49,000 people died from this disease each year over the past five years.

Greenville Hospital System’s hope is that this campaign, featuring something as simple as rolls of single-ply toilet paper unceremoniously dangling from trees, will help put a significant dent in the number of CR cancer fatalities in our community. As one who has personally been affected by this insidious disease, I’ve got my fingers crossed that it does.