J&J taps Hannibal Buress to convince millennials to 'give a spit' about bone marrow donation

Give A Spit About Cancer
Johnson & Johnson is sponsoring DoSomething.org and Be the Match's "Give a Spit About Cancer" campaign to get donors to sign up for the bone marrow registry.

It's Johnson & Johnson's turn to sponsor “Give a Spit About Cancer,” an ongoing drive to register potential bone marrow donors. And it's brought on actor Hannibal Buress to headline the effort.

Buress’ humorous “audition” video for the spokesperson role is running on YouTube. In it, he muses about spit and winking, and tries out saying, "let's do this!" in a variety of different voices. Officials are hoping his millennial appeal will inspire young people, especially people of color, to sign up for the registry.

"'Give a Spit About Cancer' is back and bigger than ever," Michele Fino, chief marketing officer at DoSomething.org, said in a news release. "We know that people of color have a much harder time finding a donor match, so in addition to getting more young people to join the registry, we're hoping this campaign will encourage more people with diverse backgrounds to join as well."

The campaign has been run by DoSomething.org and Be the Match Registry since 2011, with a variety of corporate partners and celebrities—including actors Chris Pratt and Aziz Ansari—taking part over the years. But for Johnson & Johnson, its current sponsorship drive, running through April, also has a personal connection.

One of its young employees found a lifesaving bone marrow donor through Be the Match after being diagnosed with aplastic anemia. Dana Pelz was diagnosed just weeks before starting her career at Johnson & Johnson, she shared recently on the corporate blog. J&J held her position while she went through treatment, and she’s now rallying her own donor registry campaign at J&J.

Johnson & Johnson markets blood cancer treatment Imbruvica in conjunction with AbbVie. The first-in-class BTK inhibitor last year nabbed a nod as a first-line treatment for chronic lymphocytic leukemia to add to its use as a second-line option, opening up a much larger eligible patient population who will stay on therapy longer. Imbruvica is a rising blockbuster at No. 3 on FiercePharma's Top 15 list of bestselling cancer treatments for 2022, with sales projected to rise to $8.29 billion by 2020.