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Sickkids VS

Industry: Public interest & Non-profit
Media:Direct Market
Style: Minimalism

The SickKids VS campaign from October 2016 to December 2016 was the most successful advertising campaign in the hospital’s 141-year history, raising a total of $57.9 million. The online films garnered 8 million + views and 500 million+ impressions. Online donations rose ? 695% with ? 32% in the number of transactions and a ? 63% increase in average donation dollar amount. But most importantly, we succeeded in our goal in reaching a more millennial and male audience. Donations from both targets ? 12%.

We redefined the word ‘sick’ (long part of our hospital name) by instead focusing on the fierce fighting spirit and will to win that children with severe illness possess. In doing so, we not only empowered our patients but also reframed SickKids as a competitive performance brand (from a charity brand) with a single goal – to win. By positioning ourselves as a unified and highly competitive team we boldly declared the enemies were fighting against. It was SickKids VS cancer, cystic fibrosis, heart defects, liver failure, autism, and any other illness that dared to take from us. Gone was the sad, helpless, tear-inducing advertising and small, passive ad placements typical of the children’s hospital category. Instead we portrayed our patients, doctors, nurses, and researchers like Nike would one of their star athletes – tough, resilient, and unyielding and we gave them the eye-catching and prominent placements they deserved.

We decided to stop acting like a charity and start acting like a performance brand, in the vein of Nike and Under Armour. We demonstrated we were a winning brand and that any donation, no matter how small, would achieve tangible results. Our bold, intense, in-your-face, and inescapable (we dominated the city) advertising was designed to jolt potential donors (specifically targeting a younger and more male audience who hadn’t contributed before) off the sidelines and into the fight. People are far more likely to donate if they feel that an organization is on the cusp of something significant and far more apt to pay attention when a tone shifts significantly.

After 141 years as a world-renowned hospital, SickKids’ building was old and in desperate need of a major overhaul. So too was the brand. With consumers being trained to expect a specific tone and message from cause marketing, the typical sad and helpless advertising approach no longer broke through. Our donations were flatlining. The money was also coming from the same donor set, which was aging out and skewed heavily female. In order to succeed, SickKids needed to jolt new donors off of the sidelines. We wouldn’t reach our ambitious fundraising goals unless we did something radically different.

Typical children’s hospital advertising operates like most other charities, choosing small and passive ad placements to appear helpless and needy. By reframing ourselves as a performance brand, we needed to act like one. We launched with a bold and intense :120 film during the Toronto Maple Leafs home opener (in arena and on broadcast) thus guaranteeing the majority of Torontonians would be watching. From there, we pushed out further films online, and blanketed the city with massive, eye-catching, high profile placements. We dominated Yonge + Dundas square (Toronto’s version of Times Square) with aggressive and assertive photography or our patients. We plastered billboards across the city, wrapped streetcars, and even completely took over the inside of the hospital itself with large installations. We also created a website where the content would tailor itself to the specific fight a donor chose.

We changed SickKids’ entire tone, look & feel, and media placement in order to directly target specific audiences (millennial + male) that hadn’t previously donated before.
Chief Creative Officer:
Creative Director:
Art Director:
Production Company:
Director of Photography:
Other credit:Chief Strategy Officer: Jason Chaney
VP Brand Director: Michelle Perez
Line Producer: Joan Bell
Flame Artist: Sean Cochrane
Music Creative Director: Didier Tovel
Music Artist: Donnie Daydream feat: Richie Sosa
VP, Brand Strategy and Communications (Client): Lori Davison
Director, Integrated Brand Marketing (Client): Kate Torrance
Manager, Patient Ambassador Program (Client): Lisa Charendoff
Director, Public Relations (Client): Sandra Chiovitti
Executive Producer: Dan Ford, Liane Thomas
Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity 2017
Silver Health & Wellness
Fundraising & Advocacy
Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity 2017
Shortlist Direct
Charities & Non-profit
Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity 2017
Shortlist Health & Wellness
Fundraising & Advocacy
Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity 2017
Shortlist Integrated
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