SickKids finds powerful ways to share face-to-face stories in a pandemic

Who: SickKids Foundation, with Cossette for creative and strategy, OMD for media and Citizen Relations for influencer.

What: “Because someone gave monthly,” a new approach to the long-running “Vs” platform that is designed to attract new monthly donors the hospital would ordinarily have acquired through in-person canvassing, which has been put on hold during the pandemic.

When & Where: The campaign started last week and will run through March 28. Creative is running online, complemented by broadcast around the Greater Toronto Area, as well as influencer outreach and outdoor. The media buy included a :30 during the Super Bowl.

Why: In-person canvassing has long been vital to the hospital’s ability to meet with potential monthly donors, said Heather Clark, vice-president of direct and digital marketing at SickKids Foundation. It’s a tactic that enables canvassers to share some of the profoundly meaningful ways the hospital helps so many children and young people every year. “A beautiful thing happens when you can have face-to-face contact, which is you can have a very intimate conversation with people,” said Clark.

There’s real power in those conversations, but the tactic isn’t viable when people are staying home as much as possible, said Clark. This created a challenge because the hospital’s monthly donor acquisition goals remain unchanged. “One of those ideas was to create a campaign where we really set out to reinvent canvassing in digital channels, and to emulate that personal connection,” said Clark.

How: The fully integrated campaign that ended up on the Super Bowl started out with the relatively small idea of having SickKids “alumni”—adults who received critical care at the hospital as children—share their stories. But the more they opened up about how the hospital saved their lives, the more the campaign team realized how evocative their stories were, even though they weren’t on-site for the shoots and were seeing the stories remotely.

“When we saw the intimacy of these interviews that were being conducted, that was when we just knew that there was something really special in it,” said Clark.

“We really did feel the power of that intimate connection, the same thing that we rely on with the face-to-face channels, and we were able to capture that and have it come through a screen,” said Denika Angelone, senior strategy director at Cossette.

Upon discovering that power, they decided to become more ambitious, including running ads in the Super Bowl. Four different individuals are featured in the ad, and each spot ends with the alumni explaining: “Because someone gave monthly, SickKids saved my life.” (The Super Bowl :30 is the top spot below.)

The local appeal: Influencers have been enlisted to tell their own personal stories about the importance of Sick Kids, and postcards are being distributed in neighbourhoods where two of the alumni reside. The cards include QR codes that trigger an AR video of the former SickKids patients recalling their experience at the hospital.

“The idea was to replicate the conversation you would have with someone in a face-to-face channel…to get to people’s homes in a really relevant way,” said Angelone.


David Brown