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Sickkids VS

Industry: Public interest & Non-profit
Media:TV & Cinema
Style: Minimalism

SickKids began this development work from a position of strength. The most recent SickKids advertising activity had generated a notable lift across all brand metrics; it motivated donations, creative awards and brand reputation.So why change? Philanthropy in Canada is not growing – giving behaviour remains flat among SickKids core donor base of Canadian females aged 45+. In order to drive future growth for SickKids Foundation, we needed to broaden our appeal to new audiences and garner new levels of commitment to the cause. Our aim was to attract the attention of potential donors who are sitting on the sidelines – more millennials and more males.

A driving principle of the strategy was to generate the highest level of activity over one weekend. The engine of this strategy was a ‘shared exclusive’ with leading Canadian publications. The Globe and Mail launched a business story and Toronto Star shaped a human-interest angle. Both newspapers simultaneously published their stories and SickKids was trending on Twitter (#1) and YouTube (#8) within hours.Those stories coincided with a media launch event featuring 50 patient families and 100 hospital staff wearing branded tshirts. This created powerful photo and live interview opportunities that were widely picked up by national media and aired on news programs as far as Germany. Targeted celebrity outreach amplified our content and social engagement. Most notably, Ryan Reynolds conducted four media interviews, included the campaign in his social posts and mentioned SickKids during his acceptance speech at the Critics’ Choice awards. All of this was gratis.

October 2016 saw the launch of the boldest brand platform in SickKids history: “SickKids VS.” The campaign represents a revolutionary shift in tone and approach, highlighting the fierce side of the patients, families and staff at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) and the fight that occurs at the hospital each day. The campaign garnered international attention and has been hailed as a “category changer” in the not-for-profit sector. This tonal brand shift is a strategic move designed to position SickKids Foundation for the launch of the largest fundraising campaign in Canadian health care history in the fall of 2017.

In Canada: 295 stories and 56.5 million impressions domestically as measured by Media Relations Rating Points (the Canadian industry standard PR measurement tool);Canadian coverage highlights: Toronto Star (front page) and Globe and Mail on launch day; all four TV networks; additional Toronto Star front page story on Christmas Eve; Canadian Press story about the “Grace” spot picked up by over 30 outlets and was a Toronto Star reader favourite story for 2016;International coverage: 58 international stories in 17 countries (audience reach N/A); coverage included everything from broadcasts on the evening news in Germany and Japan, to interviews with spokespeople, to online stories and social shares.International stories in: Australia, Belgium, Brazil, China, France, Germany, Greece, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Peru, Poland, Slovakia, Spain, Ukraine, United Kingdom and United States. Social media: @SickKids and #SickKidsVS trended on Twitter Canada (#1) and YouTube (#8) on launch day/weekend; #SickKidsVS – more than 365 million

SickKids Foundation conducts annual brand tracking and advertising effectiveness studies. The key take-away was that they were doing a great job of reinforcing the positive aspects to their core donor base, but weren’t saying anything new or attracting the attention of anyone new.The role of public relations was to generate unprecedented levels of media attention and social engagement, drive digital amplification through stories on leading digital news sites, leverage key influencers and celebrity champions and rally grassroots support through local media, all with the goal of driving donations from a broader group of donors– especially millennials and males.In anticipation that this shift in the brand voice may be polarizing, PR strategies were employed to mitigate any negative sentiment around the provocative and potentially controversial approach of the campaign. At the end of the campaign period the launch had exceeded all media coverage, social engagement and donation goals.


With this brief, we developed “SickKids VS” which is shorthand for “SickKids VS the Greatest Challenges in Child Health.” The agency brought this concept to life through a video “anthem” that declared the platform with the same edginess and attitude of any true performance brand, like Nike.This strategy was designed to tell a different side of the SickKids story. We would shift our focus to the leadership attributes of the brand and evolved the voice from “charity brand” to “performance brand.” From “help us” to “join us.” The key takeaway was this: We are winning, but we won’t stop fighting until every kid is a healthy kid.The creative approach was tested through exhaustive stakeholder engagement sessions with hospital staff, donors and volunteers, patient families and the patients themselves. Quantitative research was done to test advertising executions. The overwhelmingly positive response validated the platform and we moved forward.
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 2018
Silver Creative Effectiveness
Creative Effectiveness
Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity 2017
Gold Health & Wellness
Fundraising & Advocacy
Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity 2017
Shortlist Grand Prix for Good
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