Case study: Macmillan Cancer Support

The charity's Sex and Cancer viral featured a sex guru. Our expert is impressed

Macmillan Cancer Support helps people who are affected by cancer. It launched its Sex and Cancer campaign in May 2009, hoping to raise awareness of the impact of cancer on sex and relationships.

- Which media were used?

The campaign was promoted with a viral video called Sex guru's top tip - use your finger. The advice from the two 'sex gurus' in the video, one male and one female, was to click on to Macmillan's website.

Content on the website included videos of people affected by cancer, a toolkit for health professionals and information about how to contact cancer support specialists.

- Communicating the message

Macmillan wanted to raise awareness of the impact of cancer on sexual relationships and encourage discussion about the problems that can arise.

"We wanted to encourage people to talk about these issues with health professionals," says Michelle Rowley, campaigns manager for Macmillan. The campaign was also intended to encourage primary care trusts to provide sex and relationship-focused services for their patients.

To gather information and evidence to support the campaign, Macmillan hired research company Toluna to conduct a survey through an anonymous online forum.

- Costs and practicalities

Macmillan declined to reveal the exact amount of money that it spent on the campaign, but Rowley says it was less than £5,000. Media coverage was secured by the charity's in-house PR team and the viral video was created free of charge by brand and digital agency Rufus Leonard. Macmillan paid a seeding company to seed videos on the web and paid Toluna to conduct its research.

- Did it work?

The charity secured extensive media coverage for the campaign, including a 15-minute slot on ITV's This Morning and features in national newspapers, such as a double-page spread in the News of the World magazine Fabulous. It says the viral video has received 45,000 views and the average click-through rate on its website has doubled since the campaign started.

The charity also says 2,500 health and social care professionals used a toolkit it produced to help them address sex and relationships with their service users, and it has had feedback from 27 primary care trusts and other organisations working with cancer patients. Dana Nialis


Chris Arnold, Founder, Creative Orchestra

This is still a very taboo subject and Macmillan has been brave to tackle it with humour. From my own experience, even the most serious subjects are often best addressed in this way.

The viral is a spoof of one of those wacky sex gurus offering new age sex advice. It is well cast, well acted and shot in that low-budget way you'd expect from such a video. The gag is a simple: use your finger for better sex. Not for what you think, but to click on the Macmillan website for advice and support.

The viral has had more than 13,000 views on YouTube - not bad for such a specialist subject. There is also a number of other videos related to the campaign on YouTube, some giving moving personal experiences.

It's an important campaign and a great opportunity to do further creative work.

Creativity: 4
Delivery: 4

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Already registered?
Sign in
Follow us on:

Latest Jobs

RSS Feed

Third Sector Insight

Sponsored webcasts, surveys and expert reports from Third Sector partners


Expert Hub

Insurance advice from Markel

Charity property: could you be entitled to a huge VAT saving?

Charity property: could you be entitled to a huge VAT saving?

Partner Content: Presented By Third Sector promotion

When a property is being constructed, VAT is charged at the standard rate. But if you're a charity, health body, educational institution, housing association or finance house, the work may well fall into a category that justifies zero-rating - and you could make a massive saving

Third Sector Logo

Get our bulletins. Read more articles. Join a growing community of Third Sector professionals

Register now