Case study: Bowel Cancer - Know the Signs

The cancer campaign aimed to make the public aware that bowel cancer is treatable and curable if caught early

Bowel Cancer campaign
Bowel Cancer campaign

In an effort to raise awareness of bowel cancer and its symptoms among people aged over 50s a group of organisations, including Cancer Research UK, has launched a campaign called Bowel Cancer: Know the Signs.

Funded by the National Awareness and Early Diagnosis Initiative - a partnership between CRUK, the Department of Health and the National Cancer Action Team - the campaign will run in the north-east London boroughs of Barking & Dagenham, Havering and Redbridge. The boroughs have spent £100,000 each on the campaign.

After a competitive tender process, the marketing consultancy Audience Communications was appointed to develop the campaign last October. As part of the process, Audience consulted groups of older people. "It was led by local people over 50 - they helped us to create the brand and some campaign activities," says Ed Gyde, chief executive of Audience. "We ran workshops in church halls, community centres and hotels."

One of the objectives was to make the public aware that bowel cancer is treatable and curable if caught early. "The people we consulted wanted a campaign that was jolting," Gyde says. "They also said they wanted the message to be kept simple - they didn't want humour or wordplay."

The resulting campaign, which was launched last month, features posters, symptom-checker cards and health briefings, such as the Big Bowel event. This involves transporting a large, inflatable bowel to various locations, such as shopping centres, to encourage people to get information about the disease from on-site nurses.

Posters feature a photograph of the 1966 World Cup winning captain Bobby Moore, who died of bowel cancer in 1993 at the age of 51. His England teammate, Fulham's George Cohen, a bowel cancer survivor, was recruited to promote the campaign. One element to come out of the workshops - which were attended by almost 100 people - was the desire to see posters in everyday locations, such as bus shelters and pubs, for example.

Gyde says that the people who attended the workshops thought the campaign should be positive. "They said there had to be hope," he says. To this end, the campaign makes clear that 90 per cent of cases can be treated if diagnosed early.


Francesca Boardman, creative director, WhitewaterI like the fact that this campaign is clear and concise - a difficult seat, given that so many charities have worked together to produce it. Unfortunately, there is absolutely no engagement in the execution. Yes, bowel cancer is a serious issue, but does this campaign have to be so boring in creative terms?

The campaign poster is dull. The execution of the toilet door poster is obvious and doesn't sit with the other material. The layout of the men's poster is old-fashioned. And I hate the idea of the Big Bowel event, with a huge inflatable colon visiting shopping centres. Having told us they weren't going for humour, I find this stunt laughable.

I hope the posters and symptom-checker cards will successfully raise awareness of bowel cancer and persuade more people to visit their GPs earlier.


Creativity: 1

Delivery: 3

4 out of 10

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