How Prostate Cancer UK politicised its brand

In recent months, the organisation formerly known as the Prostate Cancer Charity has rebranded itself as a highly politicised action group.

The charity changed its name to Prostate Cancer UK over the summer and set about drawing up a new ‘MANifesto’, which it launched last month.

This sets out plans for a huge increase in fundraising and lobbying as part of “one of the most ambitious and comprehensive improvement programmes in the history of men’s health in the UK”.

Director of communications Seamus O’Farrell says that the organisation is aiming to raise awareness about what it does by operating less like a charity and more like a political movement.

“We’ve been around for just over 15 years and our services are best-in-class,” he claims. “The problem is that nobody knows about us.”

The organisation, which merged with Prostate Action in August, plans to extend its reach five times among men over the next two to three years.

O’Farrell says that awareness about prostate cancer is severely lacking in the UK, despite it being as widespread as breast cancer.

“We’re going to rattle the cage among politicians, the health service and the nation at large to get this disease on the agenda,” he says.

To achieve these aims, Prostate Cancer UK has sought to adopt hard-hitting language and imagery that moves it away from its previous ‘charity’ label.

“The problem with the word charity is that in the public’s mind that connotes well-intentioned amateurs,” O’Farrell says.

“In fact we’re a medical organisation, an advisory organisation and a research organisation.”

The MANifesto is intended to “distill” the new identity into simple, memorable terms, O’Farrell explains.

“We’re now saying very clearly that the reason we get out of bed is to help thousands more men survive and enjoy a better quality of life,” he says.

Prostate Cancer UK is planning a £2m marketing push by the end of the financial year to help communicate this new brand message. O’Farrell says this campaign will also project a stark, dramatic warning about the disease.

“I’m not saying we need to be punchy in our marketing just to aggressively get ourselves on to the stage but we do need to be very clear that this is a disease that affects millions of people,” he says.

“It’s as big as breast cancer and there is very little investment that has gone into it relatively speaking,” says O’Farrell.

“Our underlying belief is that men deserve a lot better.”

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