Macmillan revamps marketing strategy ahead of brand relaunch

Macmillan is moving away from its ‘Not Alone’ positioning to instead show how it can help cancer patients live their lives through a message it believes will be ‘poignant but hopeful’.

Macmillan is overhauling its marketing ahead of a brand relaunch as it looks to reposition the charity to show that it can help cancer patients and their families at any stage as well as provide not just nursing support but financial and psychological help as well.

The new brand campaign, created by VCCP, sees Macmillan drop its ‘Not Alone’ positioning in favour of a message about how the charity can help cancer sufferers live normal lives. A series of TV ads, set to air from tonight (30 May), show people including a dad and a sister living life normally despite their cancer diagnosis.

There is then a juxtaposition, with the ads showing the reality of their cancer treatment and their reactions to the diagnosis. The aim is to show that while they may be dealing with cancer, they are still a person beyond that.

Macmillan’s new ad campaign shows both the realities of life with cancer and cancer sufferers still living life

Speaking to Marketing Week, Macmillan’s executive director of fundraising, marketing and communications Richard Taylor says the new campaign is part of a wider move by the charity to reassess its brand strategy in the face of increasing demand for its services. By 2030, 4 million are expected to be living with a cancer diagnosis, up from current levels of 2 million people.

The plan is to launch the new Macmillan brand to the public in 2018. This campaign is the first step on working out what that strategy should look like as the charity looks to “tell a new story” about its work.

READ MORE: How Macmillan is moving its brand beyond metaphors to show ‘harsh reality’ of cancer

“Going forward we want to recognise that individuals who face a cancer diagnosis have a bigger role than just being a patient. When we speak to people they all say they don’t want to be defined by their cancer but that cancer ends up robbing them of their identity,” he explains.

“They all say they want to live their lives as fully as they can while they can whether that be at work, being a partner, being a sibling. This is building towards the positioning that life with cancer is still life and Macmillan has a particularly important role to play in helping people do that. It is poignant but hopeful.”

Taylor admits people tend to see Macmillan as a charity that supports people towards the end of their life, but he wants to broaden out that depiction because in reality it can help people at every stage – from diagnosis to treatment to recovery, as well as for end of life care. For the first time, the new campaign looks to highlight the range of services it offers beyond Macmillan nurses – hinting at the financial, work and psychological help it also offers.

The idea that underpins this campaign – that life with cancer is still life – you will see that or a version of that in everything because it is such an insightful truth.

Richard Taylor, Macmillan

For example, Macmillan has partnerships with both Nationwide and Lloyds so that if one of their customers receives a cancer diagnosis the banks can point them in the direction of the charity and its services.

Beyond the TV campaign, Macmillan will be pushing its new positioning across radio, outdoor and social, as well as incorporating it into the marketing it does around big events such as the World’s Biggest Coffee morning in September. It will also look at whether it needs to do more above-the-line promotion of specific services to raise awareness of them.


“We want this campaign to nod to the future brand strategy at Macmillan. The language, tone, content and messaging behind it, you will see that through our other campaigns,” adds Taylor.

“The idea that underpins it – that life with cancer is still life – you will see that or a version of that in everything because it is such an insightful truth. Then come spring 2018 we need to think about how we launch our new brand articulation.”

While any campaign that Macmillan runs aims to increase fundraising, Macmillan will be particularly looking at econometrics around this one to make sure it is getting “the impact and reach” it needs. The charity will be measuring awareness, but also affinity and consideration – both in terms of fundraising and also making sure it is front-of-mind for people with a cancer diagnosis or who might know someone who has been diagnosed.



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