Life goes on, even with cancer, says Macmillan

In a series of four commercials, backed by print, OOH and radio ads, VCCP’s Life with Cancer campaign is, says the agency, based on some pertinent research findings. “85% of people with cancer don’t want to be defined by the disease,” the agency says. “People living with cancer … say spending time with their friends and family can help them feel ‘normal’ when they are going through treatment.”

The four spots are sensitively shot and brilliantly cast. Though they offer glimpses of the harsh realities of undergoing cancer treatment, the focus is more on the need to maintain the idea that “life with cancer is still life”. Four stories focus on a father, sister, friend and lover, demonstrating that life for each goes on – somewhat as normal – even after diagnosis. This is, the agency says “a campaign about hope – about the moments where your life is just your life, and not your life with cancer”.

Cancer charities typically attract higher levels of donations than any other charities in the UK but striking the right tone in fundraising campaigns is very tricky. As is balancing the different audiences they must speak to – from those currently affected by the disease, to those who admire the work of the charities or perhaps fear that one day they might need their services, to those families whose loved ones have benefited from the care that organisations like Macmillan can provide and want to say thank you.

This campaign feels contemporary, authentic and, though it packs an emotional punch, it avoids being overly-sentimental or scaremongering.

A word too about that casting. Time was when it was very rare to see anything but a (young) white face in a British TV commercial, usually as part of a happy nuclear family. One of these spots features an older black couple, another has a white man and his black best friend. This kind of diversity in advertising now attracts little comment but, when advertising is so often slammed for all manner of nefarious activities, and for its lack of employee diversity, let’s at least recognise the very real change that has taken place in terms of the representative nature of those who appear in our spots. Also, how refreshing that the older couple are referred to as ‘lovers’.

Agency: VCCP
Deputy ECD: Matt Lever
Creative: Colin McKean
Director: Jim Gilchrist
Production Company: Outsider

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