Ready for battle

20.10.2016 Advertising : Charity : Canada
The SickKids Foundation campaign by Cossette, Toronto

Toronto – Challenging the traditional tone of charity advertising, children’s hospital SickKids Foundation focuses on the bravery of children battling illnesses in its latest campaign.

  • The SickKids Foundation spent £1.2m (C$2m, €1.4m) on the advertising campaign, including production and placement – in line with its dedicated 2% spending of fundraising revenues on branding
  • The tone of voice steers clear of the usual sombre appeals, and chooses to focus on the notions of strength and power often seen in sportswear advertising

Charity advertising appeals often feature heart-breaking images of sick children sitting forlorn in hospital beds, but SickKids Foundation chose a different tactic for its Vs ad. A pro bono project conceived by the Cossette agency, the advert shows young kids and doctors preparing for battle – putting on warpaint, wrapping their hands as if ready to box and smashing a dialysis machine.

‘We’re looking to transform SickKids from a cause brand to a performance brand – what we would classically see in the Nikes or the Under Armours of the world,’ Jay Chaney, chief strategy officer of Cossette, told the Globe and Mail.

The ad toes the line between showing the strength of the children as well as the reality of sickness. A break in the action shows parents crying and a crash trolley being used. ‘The most important thing is you think twice about it,’ says Ted Garrard, CEO of SickKids.

The Big Picture

Nike’s winning formula in advertising is now inspiring those in other sectors to take on a more empowering tone of voice. For more, see how Nike translated its vision to a more conservative Indian market.

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