Marketing Idea: World’s Largest Colonoscopy Party

March 15, 2011
C. Suzanne Bates,

C. Suzanne Bates

This is John Reinan’s weekly marketing column for MinnPost.com.

Steve Martin’s colon could help save the lives of hundreds of Minnesota women.

Not that the comedian’s digestive organ has any special life-giving qualities– but the way he handles cancer prevention has inspired an event aimed at Minnesota women of a certain age.

“When Steve Martin is due for a colonoscopy, he invites his buddies over to play cards the night before and do their prep, then the next morning they all go get their colonoscopies,” said C. Suzanne Bates, a founder of Aging But Dangerous, a dot-com company that provides tools and communities to help women expand their boundaries. “When I heard about that, I thought– hmm, this could have potential.”

The result is an event being billed as the world’s largest colonoscopy party, set for March 31 and April 1 at the Depot Renaissance Hotel in downtown Minneapolis. The cost of $198 includes a “pre-poop party” on Thursday night, food and overnight accommodations, then transportation to the colonoscopy the next morning, topped off with a post-event party.

The sleepover is aimed at women over age 50, but anyone is welcome at the Thursday pre-party. Tickets for that event are $50 and entitle you, among other things, to take a tour of a 12-by-24-foot model of a colon. All proceeds benefit the American Cancer Society.

Colon cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States, according to the Colon Cancer Alliance. A recent survey by the alliance found that 70 percent of people whose doctors recommended a colonoscopy had failed to get one, primarily because of fear of the procedure.

“There are so many things in life that can be fun if you just approach them with the right attitude,” said Bates, who last year led a skydiving-and-martini excursion for more than 100 over-50 women. “It’s the preparation for a colonoscopy that’s a pain in the butt – no pun intended. And with other people involved, it doesn’t have to be.”

Right now, only about two-thirds of Minnesota women are screened for colon cancer, while 80 percent are screened for breast cancer, Bates said. If colon cancer were screened for at the 80 percent level, it could save 500 lives a year in Minnesota.

“Eventually, we want to promote this on a national basis,” she said. “We think we can save thousands of lives.”

The registration deadline for the sleepover colonoscopy party is March 18. To register and for more information, visit here.