Prostate Cancer UK celebrates men with ‘stripped back’ campaign that aims to raise awareness

The charity is using raw home-footage and images of real men to help people understand the disease, which kills one man every 45 minutes in the UK.

Prostate Cancer UK has launched a new “stripped back” marketing campaign that is designed to “make people care about men” while highlighting the sheer scale of the disease.

‘Men, we are with you’ draws on real-life footage and images of men, some of which are living with prostate cancer, doing both ordinary and extraordinary things in their day-to-day lives.

Speaking to Marketing Week, Olivia Burns, director of communications at Prostate Cancer UK, says the aim is to “remind viewers of what they love about men”, while playing on emotion and helping them understand the direct impact of the cancer.

Prostate cancer is responsible for the death of a man every 45 minutes in the UK, a statistic that means it kills more people than breast cancer.

“Firstly, we needed to help people understand the scale of the disease in order to understand prostate cancer. Then we needed to give them that sense that this could be a threat to them and the people they know, making them recognise they need to care about men,” she says.

“The entire campaign was based on audience research and this concept of talking about men and making people feel emotionally connected with men in their lives.”

The documentary style spot, produced alongside creative agency BBH, is supported by a passage from Shakespeare’s Hamlet that intends to capture the “essence and greatness of men” and is read by actress Zoe Wanamaker, who lost her father to the disease.

Before creating the campaign, Prostate Cancer UK wanted to learn more about what motivates people, and their attitude towards the charity. It is the culmination of two years of research around engagement with the British public and better understanding both cancer sufferers and those whose lives have been affected by the disease.

“The campaign has been a long time in the making. Two years ago we started doing research around engagement and understanding our audiences,” explains Burns..

If people don’t understand prostate cancer or its scale it’s very difficult to help them feel emotionally connected to the disease.

Olivia Burns, Prostate Cancer UK

“Then we looked at our brand through the lens of those people to learn about what appeals to them and what we needed to do. This set the framework in order to understand how we would then go about communicating with them and developing our brand campaign.”

The research led to the conclusion that education and emotion were two key factors the charity needed to use in order to reach the people that mattered most – men and those close to them – which eventually led to the “stripped back” creative.

“If people don’t understand prostate cancer or its scale it’s very difficult to help them feel emotionally connected to the disease. We had to go right back and strip the ideas back to their basics and position this around the people we are trying to save, which is men,” she says.

“If we’re going to make people care about men it needed to be really authentic. We could have gone down a route of casting and acting out specific scenes but actually the authentic nature of using real people and fan footage gave it a much more emotional feel.”

Burns says when measuring success there are number of metrics taken into account such as donation consideration and brand awareness. But she adds it’s also crucial the public understand what Prostate Cancer UK’s role is.

“We fund ground-breaking research, we provide support services and we campaign and influence for better care. We don’t just focus on one of those things, so it’s important we know how people are understanding us and the breadth of what we do,” she says.

The TV spot goes live this week and will be supported by outdoor, digital and social media activity. Additionally, men whose lives have been affected by prostate cancer will feature on an outdoor installation at London’s Southbank.



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  1. Pete Austin from Fresh Relevance 23 May 2019

    I think these single-issue medical charities miss the point. It would be much more helpful if they combined into a single portal where visitors could find the most important medical issues all on one page. Would it at least be possible to do this with cancer?

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