CIBC reimagines Run For the Cure

Who: The Canadian Cancer Society and CIBC Run For the Cure, with Juniper Park\TBWA and its design arm Le Parc.

What: “Never stop running,” a new campaign promoting this year’s version of the annual Run For the Cure fundraiser, which has been reimagined as a hybrid physical/virtual event because of the pandemic.

When & Where: The campaign launched this week running across TV, online video, radio digital and social in advance of the Oct. 4 event.

Why: The world may have stopped because of the pandemic, but breast cancer hasn’t: it still affects one in eight Canadian women, and accounts for approximately one-quarter of all new cancer cases. While Run For the Cure looks different this year, it’s still a major event on the Canadian Cancer Society’s fundraising calendar, having raised more than $54 million since its inception.

How has the event changed? The Run For the Cure attracts more than 3,000 runners, which is obviously not possible this year because of safety concerns around COVID-19 and mass gatherings.

Instead, the Canadian Cancer Society and CIBC worked with its agency partners to reimagine the event, with the biggest change being the introduction of avatars that will represent participants on the day of the run. Rather than a pre-determined route, participants are being asked to complete a 1 km or 5 km walk/run around their neighbourhood, with their avatar receiving a medal upon completion.

In addition to driving engagement and helping people recognize fellow run participants, the avatar is also a fundraising tool—with participants able to unlock additional personalization features when certain goals are achieved.

For the first time in its history, this year’s run will also kick off with a live-streamed ceremony.

How: The introduction of the avatar was the inspiration for Juniper Park\TBWA’s creative approach, which uses colourful animation to showcase the event and its participants.

While the spot uses animation, the voiceover stresses that cancer has a real-life impact on the women who run, their families and businesses, with all of the spot’s “hero characters” modelled on actual cancer survivors.

“[T]hose we serve are so much more than their diagnosis—they live their lives to the fullest despite many challenges,” says Paula Roberts, executive vice-president of brand marketing, communications and digital for the Canadian Cancer Society. “Breast cancer can change everything but it doesn’t define who a person is. ‘Never Stop Running’ celebrates that indomitable spirit.”

And we quote: “We knew that the 2020 edition of the run would be wildly different from previous years since a large gathering of people was a non-starter. The question was what would it look like and how could we still generate the same level of enthusiasm. To do so, we created a virtual version of the run that allowed people to participate individually or in small groups. But it still happens on run day. So, we’ll ‘virtually’ all be together.” — Andy Linartados, group creative director, Juniper Park\TBWA.

Chris Powell