AstraZeneca tees off new campaign with pro golfer Jason Day as he opens up about his mother's lung cancer journey, importance of biomarker testing

A successful golf shot takes aim and precision. So does fighting lung cancer with targeted therapy. Pro golfer Jason Day knows plenty about both and is sharing his experience in a new AstraZeneca campaign for biomarker testing awareness.

Day is the star of AZ’s new “Getting out of the Rough'' video series, which aims to educate lung cancer patients and their caregivers about the role testing plays in lung cancer diagnosis and treatment. 

The subject is personal for Day, whose mother, Dening Day, died from stage 4 non-small cell lung cancer in March. After her diagnosis, Dening underwent biomarker testing, which found a mutation that made her eligible for a targeted therapy tailored to her specific type of tumor. Her family credits the drug with giving them more time together.

“It gave us another treatment option, essentially,” Day tells “Modern Family” actress Julie Bowen, who appears on a golf course with Day in the series’ first episode. In the six-minute video, which debuted earlier this month, Day gives Bowen tips on her golf swing as the pair bond over their shared experience caring for mothers who had been diagnosed with lung cancer.

Bowen said biomarker testing wasn’t discussed as an option when her mother was diagnosed back in 2004, and she wishes she knew then how unique each person's lung cancer journey is—both medically speaking and when it comes to coping strategies.

“It’s not one-size-fits-all, and it’s not a movie,” she says in the video. “It’s a very individualized process.” 

That's a key message AZ aims to drive home with the six-episode series, said Katy Miller, AZ’s U.S. lung cancer franchise head. “Lung cancer is not one disease anymore, it’s a collection of diseases,” she added. “You really don’t have complete information until you’ve understood the makeup of your tumor profile.”

The videos offers patients and their loved ones tips and strategies for adapting to life after diagnosis and also direct viewers to a website where they can learn more about biomarker testing.

New episodes will air on the campaign website every three weeks through mid-July and feature Day having discussions with stars like Bowen, “Blackish” actor Anthony Anderson and “Scandal” actress Bellamy Young. Later episodes feature chats with a "happiness expert," a thoracic medical oncologist and Day’s wife, Ellie.

"Each of the guests will bring their unique perspective with them to the golf course" and "each one will touch viewers differently," Miller said.

The campaign builds on work AZ did with Day in the early days of his mother’s diagnosis, said Miller, who called the golfer a “fantastic” partner because of his passion for biomarker testing.  Day and his mother both appeared in AZ’s 2019 “Test it Back” campaign, and Miller said he's been heavily involved in the messaging.

“Really it’s his words and his experience,” she said. The next episode featuring Anderson, “Playing Through the Toughest Times,” debuts April 25.

AstraZeneca has a huge stake in oncology, especially for lung cancer. Its top selling EGFR inhibitor Tagrisso brings in more than $4 billion annually while its PD-L1 inhibitor Imfinzi generated $2.4 billion in sales last year. 

Although the campaign is unbranded, both drugs treat non-small cell lung cancers with specific genetic mutations that can be discovered through biomarker testing.