Ronald McDonald House campaign shows how supporting families is supporting sick children

Who: Ronald McDonald House Charities, with Cossette for strategy and creative, OMD for media, Weber Shandwick for PR, OPC for production (directed by Charlotte Regan), Saints Editorial for post-production, Grayson for sound and The Vanity for colour and VFX.

What: “Family is Medicine,” a powerful new campaign about the benefits of having family nearby when a sick child undergoes medical treatment. RMHC has 16 houses and 17 family rooms in 23 cities across Canada, where families receive support when they have to travel long distances for child health care.

When & Where: The campaign anchor is a two-minute video ad, but creative is running on TV nationally with online video and social, as well as radio executions, out-of-home and PR support. The campaign runs through the end of April.

Why: RMHC is calling it its first “standalone mission campaign” in six years.

“Over the years, we have elevated RMHC awareness and understanding with Canadians through a number of partner campaigns with McDonald’s, such as McHappy Day, RMHC Thank You, and Fries for Good,” said Roxanna Kassam-Kara, national director, marketing and communications at Ronald McDonald House Charities Canada. “Because this year is the 40-year anniversary of RMHC in Canada, it was the perfect time to celebrate this milestone while helping Canadians better understand the work that RMHC does on a national scale.”

The goal of the campaign is to show how beneficial it can be for family to be with sick children as they undergo treatment, and how RMHC helps those families stay together.

How: The video tells the story of a family of five at Ronald McDonald House that is by turns heartbreaking and heart-warming.

The spot opens with family arriving at a Ronald McDonald House. The eldest son looks tired and anxious, and has a tube in his nose. The viewer stays with them over the course of their extended stay—from playful moments of kids being kids, to emergency trips to the hospital, and the parents silently doing laundry, exhausted by what they are facing.

It ends on the hopeful note of the family leaving Ronald McDonald House, and the young boy looking stronger and no longer in need of the tube. “When families stay together, sick children get stronger,” reads the super.

The making of: The family portrayed are actors, although each moment was inspired by real stories, said Kassam-Kara.

“The creative team came up with the script using the idea that when families stay together, sick children get stronger,” she said. “The creative team also visited various Ronald McDonald Houses several times, listening to the stories of families and staff, which brought this truth to life in a very heartfelt way.”

After hearing some of the family stories, director Charlotte Regan thought that by telling the story of one family, they could “paint a better picture of what a long-term stay at an RMHC looks like,” said Kassam-Kara “It’s not a story that is often told, but it allowed us to capture the emotional journey of a family—the good and the bad—and show how family truly is medicine.”

David Brown