Creatives’ insights: The brutal honesty behind ‘Give-a-Care’

Lg2's Chris Hirsch on what drove the project beyond the initial ask.


Pictured: Lg2′s Sabrina Coté, Chris Hirsch (left), Claude Auchu and Élise Cropsal (right) celebrate the agency’s wins in Cannes last month.

Following a record-breaking year for Canada in Cannes, strategy is diving into a few of this year’s award-winning campaigns, asking the top creatives behind the work to tell us more about the process and their learnings. In our last instalment, Lg2′s Chris Hirsch explains how the agency’s “Give-a-Care” product line for Rethink Breast Cancer developed beyond the client’s original ask. Be sure to also read about Carlos Moreno’s take on why letting experts be experts helped SickKids and Cossette strike a new emotional tone; Leo Burnett group creative director Anthony Chelvanathan’s story of how “Cook This Page” came to life – after a few deaths; and FCB Toronto’s co-CCOs’ background on “Down Syndrome Answers.” 

It’s all-too-easy to get too caught up in technical advancements and deep data insights in the modern marketing and advertising world. But honest conversation was the starting point for one of this year’s more insightful and ultimately, successful campaigns out of Canada – Rethink Breast Cancer’s “Give-a-Care” product line.

Chris Hirsch, partner, VP and creative director at Lg2 Toronto, says the irreverent-yet-practical line of toques, tissues, candies and more was born from face-to-face conversations with those they’re intended for: women diagnosed with breast cancer. “It was something that was genuinely created for a cause and need that wasn’t really recognized before,” he says.

The initial ask from the client, while important, was relatively simple compared to what the project turned into in the end. The goal was to find a way of getting Rethink Breast Cancer’s care guidelines – a 10-point list of considerations and actions to take following a breast cancer diagnosis – into the hands of the women who needed them.

But after meeting with groups of real women who have experienced breast cancer, the project quickly morphed into something bigger.

“We just started talking,” Hirsch says. “But the more we talked to them, the more we realized that there was a huge barrier between them and their loved ones because people just did not know what to say.”

Equally importantly, the Lg2 team gained brutally honest and vital feedback about what these women didn’t like receiving (turns out, flowers aren’t a favourite).

From there, it became clear that along with distributing care guidelines, Rethink Breast Cancer could also become a source for more useful gifting – everything from candies to headache balm. More importantly, it could educate patients’ loved ones about what a woman with breast cancer is really going through.

The level of honesty from real women permeated the entire process of creating “Give-a-Care,” including helping to strike the right balance between cheekiness and seriousness in the product naming.

“It wasn’t enough for us [at Lg2] to like the writing or like the design,” Hirsch says. “They were very open and honest with us.”

That candor culminated in the irreverently named products, which have now become a full-time source of income for Rethink Breast Cancer, with online sales coming from around 70 different countries – and the products all being delivered with the organization’s care guidelines, fulfilling its intention.

“We could have easily just redesigned their guidelines,” Hirsch says. “The original ask was something they needed, but we just learned that they needed a lot more than that. At the end of the day, they needed understanding.”