SickKids Foundation shows the hard days of being a mom with a sick child

Who: SickKids Foundation, with Cossette for creative and strategy, OMD for media, Citizen for PR and Scouts Honour for production (Mark Zibert directing).

What: “SickKidsMoms Vs. Hard Days,” new creative timed for Mother’s Day that shares the heart-wrenching experience of being the mother of a sick child. The creative supports SickKids Foundation’s “Get Better Gifts” program.

When & Where: The digital campaign launched late last week, with two short films being pushed through paid and organic social. There’s also a handful of cut-downs, including a :30 and four :15s.

Why: SickKids Foundation and Cossette stayed true to their successful awareness and fundraising formula of sharing real, emotionally charged stories about the important work the hospital does and the people it helps—though with a COVID-related twist.

“Our brand platform is built on real stories and authenticity, and featuring real patients and families is a big part of how we tell that story,” said Kate Torrance, VP, brand strategy and communications at SickKids Foundation, in a release. “But due to COVID, for the first time in a long time, we decided to use a family of actors to portray these stories.”

The creative has a specific objective of promoting the Get Better Gifts program, as opposed to the larger $1.5 billion fundraising program to rebuild the hospital. Get Better Gifts includes a number of Mother’s Day presents, with proceeds going to programs at the Hospital for Sick Children.

How: The campaign is anchored by the two-minute film directed by Zibert, who has worked on a number of breakthrough ads for SickKids in recent years. The video presents some of the many emotionally exhausting days moms face when dealing with a sick child.

It’s presented vlog style, similar to the day-in-the-life videos presented by so many online influencers and content creators today. It feels like such a video at first, with a mother speaking directly to camera about their day ahead.

But viewers soon realize they are seeing the intimate and heart-wrenching days of a family with a sick child over the course of a year—from cutting the young boy’s hair before it falls out during chemotherapy, to the vomit-inducing side effects of his treatments, to emergency trips to hospital. The ad ends on a hopeful note, however, as mom explains that it was a “great day” in which the young boy was able to play with his sister.

The co-creators: Cossette is listing 10 moms as co-writers of the ad—real-life moms of sick children who shared stories about some of the hard days they’ve endured as their child receives treatment at the hospital.

“After seeing the videos that SickKids moms were posting on social media, we realized just how effective this format of storytelling could be and we wanted to leverage that,” said Jaimes Zentil, executive creative director at Cossette, in the release. “Crafting the campaign film in the vlog style allowed us to frame this story within a context that everyone can relate to. It gives real insight into what life is really like for SickKids families right now.”

Aside from the Zibert-directed short film, Cossette created a three-minute video using some of the real videos of moms matter-of-factly recounting the extraordinary daily challenges they face while caring for a sick child.

And we quote: “We’re grateful for the stories of these 10 busy moms who entrusted us with the raw and intimate details of their current reality. Although dramatized, their stories are real. And these stories have given us a powerful way of creating an emotional connection with new donors during the pandemic.” — Kate Torrance, VP, brand strategy and communications, SickKids Foundation

David Brown