Published on 5th June 2018
"VS" in light letters; logo for the SickKinds Foundation Vs. campaign
Worldcom partners were teary-eyed during the Canadian SickKids Foundation presentation at the 2018 AGM in Toronto – but those tears came to a full stop when the foundation’s brave new campaign was introduced.
In 2016, the SickKids Foundation launched their groundbreaking “Vs.” campaign that completely transformed their marketing strategy. Since launching the campaign, the SickKids Foundation’s innovation has been recognized with numerous international awards. With $58 million earned in donations within the first three months alone, it’s clear to see the bold campaign resulted in big returns.
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Vice President of Brand Strategy and Communications Lori Davison explained that the campaign was specifically designed to target men. While their previous campaigning efforts traditionally targeted women with compelling emotional messaging, they found that, statistically, men typically make larger donations than women.
To reach men, the foundation abandoned empathy appeals in exchange for messaging centered on strength. It’s SickKids vs. cancer, heart disease, all limits and odds – and these kids are fighting back.
While the bold campaign gained attention and spurred donations, the foundation experienced some PR challenges as well. One of the major critiques of the campaign was its framing of sickness and cancer as a ‘fight’ to be won. However – as many parents know all too well – the reality is that not every child wins the fight.
Instead of responding to these critiques, the foundation invited the public to openly share their feedback and engage in discussion. Following this social media engagement, the foundation recognized the validity of these critiques – and determined that’s exactly why they weren’t going to stop fighting.
The campaign continues to gain attention and impressive results for the foundation. All proceeds from the campaign are spent on operations and research for the pediatric hospitals at the SickKids Foundation.
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