Prostate Cancer UK shifts marketing focus from awareness to engagement

Prostate Cancer UK is shifting its marketing strategy from awareness to engagement as it looks to drive a change in men’s attitude to health by getting them to talk about and seek advice on issues such as prostate cancer.

Video: Prostate Cancer UK’s new marketing campaign Men United


The “Men United” campaign, fronted for the second year in a row by comedian Bill Bailey, is using sport and comedy to get across a message that it hopes will “resonate” with men by talking to them in a “jokey, blokey” way. It aims to sign up more than 30,000 people that the charity hopes will become brand advocates by asking them to register on the website

Speaking to Marketing Week at an event to launch the campaign in London, the charity’s director of communications Vivienne Francis said the charity’s previous campaign, the Sledgehammer Fund, helped to boost promoted awareness of the campaign from 7 per cent among its target audience of men aged over 50 to 30 per cent. It now wants to get people involved through a series of events, including pub quizzes and events at football matches.

“Awareness is fantastic and we’ve had that success but we need to move on from that in terms of our strategy.

“This is all about engagement and getting people registered with us to say ‘I’m in, I’m part of it, what do you want me to do next?’ Then we can call on them as advocates when we’re running a campaign, they can help by telling their story and they can sign up people and help us raise funds,” she added

Francis added that the main focus of the campaign is to bring about change for men to balance out the “injustice” around the disease and boost investment to the same levels as for other cancers.

“We are creating a brand category, not just a brand. The gate is open to do something that is about more than prostate cancer, it’s about men’s health in general,” she said.

She claimed that Prostate Cancer UK has seen a 30 per cent uplift in income over the past year, excluding the “phenomenal” amount of money raised through the Movember awareness month, which aims to raise awareness of prostate cancer by encouraging men to grow moustaches through November and raise funds for Prostate Cancer UK

“The challenge is to lead the change to make that happen. We have heard about how men are not always engaging and taking control of their own health so there are barriers there and some men live with long-term side effects and don’t always get the support they need. There is a really long way to go,” she added.

The TV ads for the campaign kick off this Saturday (23 January) during the FA Cup match between Millwall and Liverpool on ITV with a call-to-action by Bailey asking men to add their weight to the movement. Francis said Bailey works so well for the charity because he is not known for presenting serious messages, providing a “nice juxtaposition” that seems to resonate with people.

“It’s less threatening. This is Bill Bailey saying in a vaguely jokey blokey way that this is something you need to know about,” she said.

The campaign, planned by Manning Gottlieb OMD, will initially run for five weeks across TV, press and outdoor, as well as digital and social media channels. This will be followed by strategic bursts of activity around events such as Fathers’ Day and the start of the new football season in September, with plans to run the Men United campaign for at least two years as Prostate Cancer UK looks to emulate the success that breast cancer charities have had in gaining support and boosting funds.

The charity hopes to reach 96 per cent of its target audience four times over the course of those two years. Prostate Cancer UK has spent £1.1m on initial media spend and is backing that up with below the line support such as PR, partnerships with organisations including the Football League, Deloitte and M&S and deals with media outlets