Cannes Lions

SickKids VS. This is Why


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Case Film






SickKids VS is the most successful healthcare campaign in Canadian history – raising over $1 billion in just four years. But there’s a problem: this success fed into a belief that SickKids raised enough, even though we still need over $300 million to build a new hospital.

So how do you convince everyone that a billion dollars is not enough?

We stripped away the bravado of SickKids VS to show everyone why the fight for a new hospital is really a fight for the lives of kids at the hospital.


SickKids VS raised over $1 billion dollars in four years and this success has fed the belief that we’ve raised enough. Our campaign had to battle the success of previous SickKids VS campaigns without delegitimizing them.

We stripped away the bravado of previous SickKids VS campaigns to show everyone why the fight for a new hospital is really a fight for the lives of kids at the hospital. Our emotional film opens on a familiar scene of a determined kid flexing to camera, before suddenly cutting to their reality. From there, our film goes tours the hospital to reveal the heartbreaking moments and hard-fought triumphs that happen every day that go unseen. In our heart-wrenching film, Nine Inch Nails’ “Hurt” track was beautifully reimagined into a message of hope. The kids stood defiant - “You might never see it. But this is why we fight” boldly appears on screen.


SickKids was suffering from a case of confirmation bias. People knew we were doing really well. On passing, the hospital looked good from the outside – confirming what they already believed. This combination led to apathy & inaction. Further, most people are fortunate enough never to have to go to SickKids and witness the reality.

In the past, our overarching strategy with VS. was about adopting the swagger of a performance brand. We went back to basics. Our strategy became making the invisible, visible. Like going behind the scenes of a team preparing for the toughest match of their careers –seeing into the locker room, the training, the intense emotional and physical preparation for battle. We opened a new window into the hospital’s hidden stories, to show people what goes on behind our walls and bring attention to fights happening inside all day, every day. You might never see it.


We launched our campaign with high impact channels like TV and cinema. We used an emotional film that stripped away the bravado of the previous campaigns and showed that our fight for a new building is really a fight for countless kids at the hospital.

We targeted our existing donors in email, social and direct mail and told the true stories of six patients and one doctor featured in the film. These were not the triumphant stories our donors were used to seeing. They were gritty, raw, and emotional. Through their stories we were able to highlight the challenges the current hospital faces, and how the only way to overcome them is to build a new one. Through micro-targeting and unique hooks, we tailored each communication to our donors and used a match offer that would double the impact of their donation.


‘This is Why’ surpassed all expectations, exceeding our fundraising goal by a massive 48%. This represented $99M in donations over and above our fundraising target, to deliver a total of $305M — surpassing our goal of $206M.

We also exceeded our new monthly donors goal, acquiring +3% increase YOY which represents $12M in lifetime value for the hospital.

Last but not least, even in our 4th year under the VS. platform, we continued to grow salience, likelihood to recommend, brand measures and, most critically, claimed donations - growing key groups beyond our traditional donor base, including men and those without children.

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