OWN Cancer turns the tide in the fight against the disease

A joint campaign to fund the Calgary Cancer Centre aims to tap the dogged "Alberta spirit."
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Fundraising campaigns have often rallied communities by categorizing their work as a fight against diseases and life-threatening conditions, but a trio of Alberta institutions behind the new “OWN Cancer” campaign are tapping into their local spirit to bring the intensity of that fight to a new level.

The spot, created by Calgary-based agency Daughter, begins asking rhetorical questions that are seemingly about the challenges and hardships people and their families go through during cancer treatment.

But then the spot turns when it is revealed the narrator’s questions are meant for cancer itself – and he’s not pulling any punches. Categorizing the “fight” against cancer as one where the tides are turning, the spot asks how it feels like time is running out and that we – all the supporters of the Calgary Cancer Centre – are now coming for it in the same way it came for our friends and loved ones.

“OWN Cancer” is a joint initiative between the University of Calgary, the Alberta Cancer Foundation and Alberta Health Services to raise $250 million for the Calgary Cancer Centre, a medical facility currently expected to open to the public in fall 2023. While construction on the 1.3 million square foot facility is well underway, the funds are needed in order to ensure it can purchase equipment, fund research and provide supports for patients.

Phoebe Dey, VP of communications and Marketing at the Alberta Cancer Foundation, says the goal of the campaign is to create a strong brand for the campaign that represents all three partner organizations, stands out above the noise and will be inspiring to donors.

The insight that drove the campaign is the fact that many Albertans see themselves as determined, entrepreneurial and able to take on any challenge. A rallying cry like this one, based around using that resilience to “change the power dynamic” in the fight against cancer, is meant to taps into the “Alberta spirit,” which Dey expects to be a “big reason” the organizations will be successful in their goals.

“This campaign is about embracing our collective strength,” adds Keli Pollock, creative director at Daughter.

A strong connection to campaign actually began before it even aired. The medical staff, cancer survivors, patients and supporters in the campaign all volunteered to participate in what Jill Dewes, partner at Daughter, called an “overwhelming” response.

The campaign also includes a line of “OWN”-branded streetwear designed by Daughter and Calgary apparel company Local Laundry, the proceeds from which will also be going to the Calgary Cancer Centre.