Re-Write Cancer campaign sets a high benchmark for originality

Re-Write Cancer campaign sets a high benchmark for originality

The Background

It’s an oft-quoted line in our industry that ‘there’s no such thing as a new idea’. 

Which is why, when you see something that is both startlingly simple and seemingly without precedent, it leaves you almost stunned. 

Grasping for where it might have come from, and why no one had thought of it before.

That happened to me.

The Big Idea

BBC Radio 2 and 6 Music DJ Mark Radcliffe underwent cancer treatment in 2018 at Manchester’s Christie Hospital and, thanks to the care he received, made a full recovery. In recognition of this, and as part of a new drive to raise £20 million towards a new cancer research centre in the city, the Re-Write Cancer campaign installed a bench.
Inscribed across it are the words:


Inverting the normal convention of installing a bench in memory of someone who has died, Re-Write Cancer made a powerful statement about the ability of cancer treatment to change the outcomes of those affected by the illness.

What They Did

One of the nicest things about this idea was that it appeared to gain traction organically, first popping up on Twitter feeds courtesy of a tweet from Radcliffe that swiftly garnered more than 40,000 likes. 

Local and then national media coverage soon followed, and in recent days new benches for other survivors have been unveiled in other parts of the city.

The Review

The images at the heart of this campaign really do speak for themselves. 

In just 14 words, Re-Write Cancer manages to say more about the transformative power of modern cancer treatment than any number of interviews, TV ads or press releases could ever hope to.

In Mark Radcliffe, it found an authentic face to front the campaign. Radcliffe had not only undergone treatment at the Christie, but had also studied at the University of Manchester and is universally recognised as someone with strong links to the city. 

Having made headlines last year when he announced his decision to step down from broadcasting whilst he underwent treatment, he proved to be the perfect fit.

In Hindsight

It is hard to criticise anything about this work. However, it was maddeningly difficult to locate the fundraising mechanic associated with the Re-Write Cancer campaign. After a few minutes of scrolling through associated pages I managed to find it, but one can’t help but feel that a link to this page this should have been front and centre of any media materials announcing the initiative.

In failing to do this, the campaign may have missed a trick in terms of monetising the interest around the launch. 

Perhaps it simply didn’t expect the level of positive interest it received. Perhaps there are more stages to the campaign yet to come. Either way, if you fancy supporting the initiative you can do so here.

Go on, it’s Christmas!

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