Firefly helps charity build credibility and beat fundraising goal by over £10,000
Paul Finch, a former bowel cancer sufferer, established Red Trouser Day (19 October) in 2016 as a dedicated event to raise money for the prevention of bowel cancer, and to help people to understand the condition better. With a goal to increase credibility and fundraising in its second year, Firefly chose Red Trouser Day as its pro-bono cause in 2017.
Bowel cancer is traditionally seen as an ‘old man’s condition’ but Paul wanted to spread awareness that it could affect everyone. To do this, Firefly created a campaign that was unafraid of discussing biological topics clearly, following the theme of ‘plain speaking about bowel cancer’.
Paul also wanted Firefly to use the campaign to ensure that Red Trouser Day displaced search results for a blog called ‘look at my fucking red trousers’, which was prominent in a number of search results for ‘Red Trouser Day’.
Firefly chose to target corporate supporters in the first phase of the campaign, and moved onto local supporters after. The team created a calendar of activity targeting corporate partners – specifically HR staff – and publicised events happening during the campaign.
It also maintained communications with 2016 supporters to keep them engaged – a key part of the campaign. Firefly created newsletters to show them what was going on, provide fundraising ideas, and even where to buy new red trousers!
Later in the campaign, Firefly work with Paul’s team to garner national press coverage to reach local supporters closer to Red Trouser Day itself. It did this through activities including:
- Staking out the BBC’s offices in London in red trousers, handing out business cards with details of the cause. Recipients included Christian Slater, Adrian Chiles and Naga Munchetty
- Ambushing Matthew Wright, the host of The Wright Stuff, by wearing red trousers to his show and speaking to him about the cause
- Securing a pro-bono research partner, 3Gem, to carry out market research, which was used throughout social media and PR materials. This included news releases around ‘Very British Problems’ – uncovering that people would rather spend a morning with an ex-partner than talk about cancer, and that many people were simply too busy to check their poo for blood (a common sign of bowel cancer)
- Getting to know Red Trouser Day supporters and telling their stories to press
- Establishing a partnership with the Sun’s ‘bowel babe’, Deborah James
Fifteen press articles were generated across national and business press, gaining approximately fifteen million impressions – potentially a quarter of the UK population! Highlights included:
- A piece from Deborah James (in her 30s), The Sun’s ‘bowel babe’, using the statistics from the research project
- Broadcast coverage on the Wright Stuff. A week after the team ambushed Matthew Wright, he wore red trousers on his show on Red Trouser Day
- A piece in The Sun, telling the story of a Red Trouser Day supporter, Hayley Slabbert
- An article in the Daily Mirror, highlighting the ‘very British problem’ of not talking about topics like cancer
- An article in the Express, talking about how to spot bowel cancer
- Reaching corporate supporters through press coverage in business titles such as The HR Director, HR News, Real Business and Business Matters, discussing how to manage mental and physical health issues including cancer
These results increased relevant Google search results for Red Trouser Day, and also helped to push the ‘look at my fucking red trousers’ article down to the third results page for ‘Red Trouser Day’.
While these results indicate the PR campaign’s success, what’s most important is that these combined PR efforts helped raise over £60,000 for Red Trouser Day, smashing the £50,000 target.
This money, given to the Royal Marsden Hospital, is funding research and investigations including tests with the Da Vinci XI robot, which allows fine-controlled surgery that is less invasive and reduces patient recovery times from weeks to just a few days. It will also fund research into blood tests, helping doctors detect cancer before physical signs and symptoms even appear.
The 2016 campaign resulted in around thirty additional patients getting colonoscopies at the Royal Marsden alone, so the 2017 campaign may have more than doubled this, potentially saving lives through early diagnosis.