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Zynga aims to expand breast cancer awareness in Words With Friends


For the second year in a row, Zynga launched its Breast Cancer Awareness Month campaign in its popular Words With Friends social game. The game publisher worries that this year, the pandemic will deter people from paying attention to the issue or getting screenings as they practice social distancing and shelter-in-place precautions.

The campaign worked well last year in a partnership with the American Cancer Society, so San Francisco-based Zynga kicked off a new #WordsWithHope campaign today. Throughout the month of October, it will feature a word of hope in the game’s Word of the Day. Words With Friends is a good vehicle for the message, as it has 97 million lifetime installs (with 3 million of these coming this year), according to measurement firm Sensor Tower.

Zynga will share that word on its social channels and in the game, along with statements shared by influential people whose lives have been changed by breast cancer. The campaign is aimed at illustrating the significance of screening and early detection, as well as celebrating the heroes that have faced this diagnosis head-on.

Above: Fashion designer Betsey Johnson kicks off Words With Hope campaign about breast cancer awareness.

Image Credit: Zynga

Among those participating in the campaign are people from the entertainment, fashion, literature, tech, medicine, and sports sectors. Fashion designer Betsey Johnson is kicking off the campaign with her own message today.

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Zynga’s Deepthi Menon said in an interview with GamesBeat that 1-in-8 women will have a breast cancer diagnosis, with higher incidents of cancer in people of color. She said the message about screening is important this year because it’s harder to do during the pandemic.

“This year has been a difficult year, and it’s no secret,” Menon said. “Players are looking for ways to find hope, find a community, and connect with each other. That has always been the case. But this year, it’s needed more than ever. And particularly for breast cancer awareness. This is a year where fewer people are able to go get a preventive screening that they usually are able to do very comfortably.”

Because of COVID-19, people are staying indoors and that makes the awareness campaign more important than ever, Menon said.

Words With Friends can reach as many as 9 million people through messages on social channels or inside the game, Zynga claims. The company measures the success of the campaign through community engagement, and last year it was really high, Menon said. Words With Friends is a good target game in part because it has more women than men.

“If we can start conversations, have the groups come together, that is what we really care about in such campaigns,” Menon said. “Betsey Johnson is an iconic fashion designer and a breast cancer survivor. She talked about her own journey with breast cancer, and you can see it in the game today. This is one of the creative ways we’re using to spread awareness.”

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