SickKids shows the day-to-day resilience of moms

The hospital takes a long-form, vlog-style approach to encourage participation in its gifting program this Mother's Day.
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SickKids Foundation is telling the story of sick children through their parents to reach donors that want to have an immediate impact on keeping them strong.

In a two-and-a-half-minute, “self-shot”-style video, “SickKids Moms VS. Hard Days” shows the emotional journey one mom of a SickKids patient goes through on days throughout the last year, from getting her son ready for a trip to the hospital, organizing his medications, shaving his head and occasionally terrifying setbacks in treatment.

But there are also good days, like when he gets discharged from the hospital or has the chance to play outside. It ends by tieing back to the Get Better Gifts program, saying a gift this Mother’s Day can “help a SickKids mom stay strong” messaging. The gifting program linked to loved ones allows people to buy something specific and tangible for a parent whose child is currently being treated at the hospital, and has been behind previous, emotional pushes around Mother’s Day.

“The overall strategy was to give our audience a deeper understanding of both the day-to-day experience and big picture journey of being a SickKids mom,” Kate Torrance, VP of brand strategy and communications at SickKids Foundation, of the difference from previous Mother’s Day campaigns. “We felt the best way to do this was through long-form video because it gave us the runway to show the full journey of the mom.”

She tells strategy the Foundation enlisted help of moms to tell their stories, and wanted to acknowledge SickKids moms not only for their incredible resilience, but also for their generosity in sharing their experiences. Created with agency Cossette, the “vlog” concept was inspired by SickKids moms using this storytelling approach themselves to connect to one another over the course of the last year.

“Even though their stories are dramatized, the moms were instrumental in helping us shape the film’s powerful and compelling story,” Torrance says. To keep with COVID-19 production safety protocols, a family of actors was used to portray real patient and family stories.

Because “Get Better Gifts” is geared towards the reality parents are current facing, Torrance says the contribution feels more immediate, something that helps with donors who are motivated by seeing the impact of their giving. But with Mother’s Day, she adds that there’s an opportunity to also get existing donors on board, as they can honour their own moms through a cause that is already important to them.

“What we’ve seen is that once people are aware and understand the Get Better Gifts program, it is a very easy decision to give, so our focus the last couple of years is to drive awareness and understanding of the program,” Torrance says.

While thankfully the pandemic hasn’t impacted children in the same way as adults, the importance of fundraising for the critical work of SickKids is as relevant as ever, Torrance says.

The charity sector as a whole was on a decline before the pandemic and the financial uncertainty and impact on so many vital sectors has increased this decline. However, many Canadians have been saving money through the past year, and there is hope within the charitable sector Torrance says, that once the pandemic is over, there will be both cash available, and people with optimistic, generous spirits that will be ready to give again to causes that matter to them.

OMD handled the media, Citizen the PR and Scouts Honour the production.