2017 Strategy Awards: SickKids takes back the fight

The campaign showed SickKids as a "performance" brand, taking on the biggest challenges in child health.


Grand Prix Public ServiceSICK2
Gold: Creative Catalyst
Gold: Evolution Strategy: Keeping It Fresh
Silver: Cause
Silver: Connection Strategy

SickKids Foundation was setting donation records, but the money was coming from the same (aging and heavily skewed female) donor set – so the organisation decided to jolt new donors off the sidelines.

In the past, SickKids played off individual stories of need, asking people to help with the “Together We Can” platform. Consumers had begun to expect a specific dire tone from cause marketing, and some learned to ignore the pleas that were coming in.

Research showed people are more likely to pay attention when a tone shifts significantly or donate if they feel an organization is a real difference maker.
Agency Cossette decided to focus on shifting SickKids from a “cause” brand to a “performance” brand. The brief line was “SickKids is taking on the greatest challenges in child health and we are winning. But we won’t stop until every kid is a healthy kid.”

The transformational platform became SickKids “VS” the greatest challenges in child health. The foundation launched with a two-minute film online and on TV during the Toronto Maple Leafs home opener. The team changed the signage at the hospital, created OOH billboards and dominated Yonge-Dundas Square and TTC streetcars. The foundation’s website changed and donors could identify the cause they were fighting for. A giant neon “VS” sign was also placed inside the hospital for kids and their families to pose for photos before a procedure or appointment.

The team also launched a series of online films, which explored the hospital’s complexity by telling the story of Grace, a child who lost her battle with cancer, but inspired an entire research team to fight for a cure with “SickKids VS. Cancer.” It then featured Hartley, who, after a dozen surgeries, explained the hospital’s need for more operating rooms with “SickKids VS. 100 Today.” Finally, it told the story of SickKids rallying to ensure Santa Claus could find children at the hospital (a source of anxiety for many) with “SickKids VS. Missing Home.”

From October to December 2016, SickKids tracked an all-time donation record for a campaign of $57.9 million. Online donation revenue increased 695%, transactions rose by 32% and the average donation dollar value increased by 63%. There was also an unprecedented increase in donations from male and millennial donors, eight million video views and 4,000 “VS” t-shirts were sold.

Brand | SickKids Foundation
Agency | Cossette
VP, brand strategy and communications | Lori Davison
CSO | Jason Chaney
Director, strategy | Fernando Aloise
VP, experience strategist | Tara O’Doherty
UX strategist | Thomas Wilkins