Cannes Lions

SickKids VS Be A Light


Presentation Image
Case Film






SickKids Foundation exists for one reason – to raise money to fund the work of the world’s number one pediatric hospital, The Hospital for Sick Children, based in Toronto, Canada. Six years into raising $1.5BN (the largest healthcare fundraising initiative in Canadian history) we needed to find a fresh way to motivate people still on the sidelines to donate.

While SickKids cares for thousands of kids each year, research revealed that only half of Torontonians were aware of our goal to build a new hospital. We needed to invigorate the other half who had yet to join us.

Our brief was simple: devise an integrated campaign to rally the people of Toronto to raise money to build the new SickKids hospital. Aiding this simplicity were clear objectives: increase monthly donors and one time donors, as well as increase the overall average donation amount by at least 6%.


The creative idea metaphorically depicted an evolving darkness as illness and SickKids as the hopeful light that beats it back. The call to action, “Be a Light” became a compelling invitation for donors to join forces with the hospital and become a light too, through their donations.

Opting for a thematically dark execution had an inherent risk given people’s pandemic induced fear and anxiety towards illness. However, we boldly seized the zeitgeist as an opportunity to get our message across and touch people's hearts on the stark realities of illness at SickKids. This creative bravery would ensure cultural relevance and breakthrough.

A symbolic fight between good and bad and light versus darkness made our message both emotionally gripping and easy to understand. It was integral to all aspects of the campaign and offered an enticing device to demonstrate the critical importance of prospective donors, across a breadth of media placements.


At this time, the world was collectively dealing with Covid-19, sparking a renewed sense of value in healthcare and hospitals. When talking to SickKids parents, they described illness as a dark cloud descending on their family; elusive, indiscriminate, and terrifying. If the pandemic had taught us anything, it’s that this darkness of illness can descend upon any of us at any time.

We leveraged this culturally relevant insight by illustrating that like Covid-19, childhood illness can come out of nowhere, but a new SickKids could fight it back.

We utilized a plan that spanned from awareness to donation. Mass media rose awareness through a bold, impactful story that captivated audiences to explain that we’re building a new hospital and why it’s needed. Lower down the funnel, our ‘understanding’ tactics demonstrated how a new hospital would positively impact child health. Lastly, conversion tactics drove people to become donors through urgency messaging.


The three month campaign leveraged mass awareness tactics and create a big bang of emotion through OOH and TV.

In parallel, consideration tactics such as print, social, and conversion assets on digital, 1:1 and social were leveraged throughout the campaign. Overall, we spread our message across twelve different tactics to the denizens of Toronto, in addition to smaller nearby communities. Through all executions we called on people to be a light that fights childhood illness.

We also made the campaign locally-relevant through a city takeover for the community of Kawartha Lakes, where one of our campaign patient ambassadors calls home. For this tactic, we leveraged radio, OOH, in-mall booths and door-to-door canvassers all at once.

We also turned to an augmented reality experience where people could engage and leave heartfelt messages for patients that could be viewed by aiming “their light” into the sky through a phone camera.


This layered integrated approach led to excellent results. We ended up acquiring 8,014 monthly donors, with a lifetime value of approximately $7,000,000 in addition to $2,029,770 in one-time donation revenue. This also marked a 8% YOY increase in average donation value.

In terms of engagement, we gained 60 million impressions across the campaign, 3.4 million of which were earned from coverage by top tier Toronto media outlets. Not to mention, a substantial campaign recall of 56%. Unaided awareness for SickKids and our mission to build a new hospital jumped 13.7% in just one year, backed by a 9% increase in future donation intent, in addition to the best ever net promoter score for a SickKids campaign; demonstrating the effectiveness of our campaign message in reaching the people who hadn’t yet shown their support.

Similar Campaigns

12 items

1 Cannes Lions Award
SickKids Airbnb


SickKids Airbnb


(opens in a new tab)