At BBH’s Beautiful Minds Bootcamp, Aspiring Strategists Take On Breast Cancer Awareness

It’s not easy to inspire women to perform breast self-exams for cancer —something no one wants to think about.  

To keep women motivated, the nonprofit Get in Touch Foundation created the Daisy Wheel mobile app, which teaches women how to perform the exams. 

This weekend, the foundation received support from a group of aspiring advertising strategists at BBH’s seventh annual Griffin Farley Search for Beautiful Minds competition. 

Founded in honor of Farley, a BBH strategy director whom the agency lost to cancer in 2013, the program is a hybrid planning bootcamp and networking event. Strategists looking to break into the industry get a crash course in planning from some of the industry’s top strategic talent. 

At this year’s event, the teams developed strategies for Get In Touch Foundation, and pitched their ideas at a Gala Showcase held on Tuesday, July 23, at Facebook in New York City. About 200 people attended. 

“We are trying to keep breast exams simple, appropriate and routine for everyone,” said Betsy Nilan, president of Get in Touch and daughter of the organization’s founder Mary Ann Wasil, who detected her own breast cancer in a self-exam in 2004. Wasil passed away three years ago. 

The teams came up with a variety of innovative strategies, including one which involved raising awareness during opening night of the newest season of The Bachelor. 

The winning team was selected by a group of judges which included Hope Cowan, director, US creative agency partnerships at Facebook; Tom Morton, US chief strategy officer of R/GA; Get in Touch’s Nilan; Steve Williams, Americas CEO/Global COO of Essence; and Saneel Radia, EVP/global chief innovation officer at RGA.

Tuesday’s event was the culmination of the annual weekend boot camp.  For each year’s event, BBH actively seeks out participants who have no experience or connections to the industry, providing strategy and pitching basics and providing support from mentors. The program received 180 applications. 

Beautiful Minds has become an institution in the industry, with more than 500 alums. 

“Everywhere in the industry, people come up to me and say, ‘Hey, I’ve done Beautiful Minds,” said Sarah Watson, global CSO and NY chairman at BBH. “It warms my heart.” 

Farley was known for the advice, support and encouragement he gave to newcomers to advertising. 

His brother, Andrew Farley, spoke Tuesday about how the event carried on his tradition. “What I love about this event is he truly loved to mentor and be mentored,” said Farley. 

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