Fundraising News: Case study - All Clear raises cancer charity profile

Jane Potter


Cancer Research UK's All Clear campaign aimed to raise the profile of the charity and recruit new donors.


Cancer Research UK, which is Britain's biggest charity, was formed by means of a merger in 2002.

Despite its size, the charity had disproportionately low levels of public awareness, says direct marketing manager Nick Georgiadis, and improving this was one of the main goals of the campaign. With hundreds of cancer charities already in existence, it was hard for the new organisation to distinguish itself from the pack.

Launched in February 2004, the campaign had two strands. The first targeted donors with two TV commercials; the second appealed to people through a range of other media.

The commercials centred on the moment when people who had been diagnosed with and treated for cancer were given the news that they had been given the 'all-clear'.

How it worked

The campaign targeted affluent ABC1 adults aged 35 and over who had either been diagnosed with cancer and had entered into remission or had a close friend or relative who had suffered from cancer.

In order to generate maximum publicity, on the same day that the campaign was launched the charity published figures that revealed a significant fall in UK cancer deaths over the last generation.

Two advertisements were created. One features a woman in a hospital telling her mother and child that she has been given the all-clear. In the other, a man returns home to give his children the same message.

According to WWAV Rapp Collins, the All Clear campaign was a significant departure in message - not just for Cancer Research UK, but for the charity sector as a whole - because its focus on the moment people receive good news meant it emphasised hope rather than need.

The second strand of the campaign focused on moments of reflection, selecting moments in the day when consumers were most likely to have time to reflect and think about the issues.

The campaign employed posters, tube cards, radio, shop fronts and sandwich bags. By communicating the message on Pret a Manger sandwich packs, the charity was able to reach people during lunch hours, when they were more likely to have time to reflect. Every Cancer Research UK shop carries some form of All Clear advertising.


According to WWAV Rapp Collins, the television advert produced a high spontaneous recall, and 47 per cent of people asked now believe that Cancer Research UK is the leading cancer charity.

A spokesperson for the agency said there was a "significant" increase in income and that TV response was 15 per cent above target.


Drew Barr, creative director, Navig8

My comments relate only to the direct mail aspect of the campaign.

Direct mail is notoriously difficult to do well. At some level it is a numbers game, with everyone aiming for a 2-3 per cent return.

If my doormat is anything to go by, there is a lot of competition out there for people's £3 a month. In order to be victorious, then, you have to have a strong message and transmit it as quickly as possible.

Cancer is an emotive subject involving real people - people that you might know - and there is also the prospect that one day it could be you.

It touches one in three people, which is a scary thought.

Not many voluntary organisations can point the finger so directly at a potential donor. For me, this is the most powerful message Cancer Research UK has, and it is voiced in the covering letter.

This campaign focuses on the good news, which is refreshing because we hear quite a lot of bad news from the voluntary sector. Hearing the 'all-clear' is the best news imaginable, and Cancer Research UK communicates the message that more people will get to hear those words thanks to its continuing work.

I think the feel-good factor and positive imagery help to enforce the message that the charity really makes a difference and has probably helped someone you know.

The campaign increased brand recall and responses were above target.

My only criticism is that the material might benefit from using fewer words.

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