CURING HOMESICKNESS

Short List
TitleCURING HOMESICKNESS
BrandSYDNEY CHILDREN'S HOSPITALS FOUNDATION
Product / ServiceFUNDRAISING INITIATIVE
CategoryG07. Corporate Purpose & Social Responsibility
EntrantCHE PROXIMITY Melbourne, AUSTRALIA
Idea Creation CHE PROXIMITY Melbourne, AUSTRALIA
PR CHE PROXIMITY Melbourne, AUSTRALIA
Production REVOLVER Sydney, AUSTRALIA
Production 2 THE GLUE SOCIETY Sydney, AUSTRALIA
Production 3 HECKLER Sydney, AUSTRALIA

Credits

Name Company Position
Nicola Stokes Sydney Children’s Hospitals Foundation CEO
Tanya Sarina Sydney Children’s Hospitals Foundation Head of Health Promotion
Susan Wynne Sydney Children’s Hospitals Foundation Director of Development
David Halter CHE Proximity Chief Strategy Officer
Mariana Rice CHE Proximity Client Partner
Albert Olsen CHE Proximity Account Executive
Sam Dickson CHE Proximity Creative Director
Cameron Bell CHE Proximity Creative Director
Glen Dickson CHE Proximity Executive Creative Director
Ant White CHE Proximity Chief Creative Officer
Holly Alexander CHE Proximity Director, Strategic Production
Darren Cole CHE Proximity Head of Design
Vanessa Saporito CHE Proximity Senior Designer
Georgia Wright CHE Proximity Director - PR
Judy Chung CHE Proximity Senior Account Director – PR
Courtney Kovacevic CHE Proximity PR
Elizabeth Lonsdale CHE Proximity Investment Manager
Anna Horan CHE Proximity Head of Editorial & Social
Sophie Doyle CHE Proximity Social Lead
Annisah Ibrahim CHE Proximity Senior Social Creative
Henry Clarke CHE Proximity Social Creative
Shayne Simpson CHE Proximity Head of Print Production
Michael Ritchie Revolver/Will O’Rourke Managing Director/Executive Producer
Pip Smart Revolver/Will O’Rourke Executive Producer
Jasmin Helliar Revolver/Will O’Rourke Executive Producer
Serena Paull Revolver/Will O’Rourke Producer
Ian Iverson CHE Proximity Producer
Pete Baker The Glue Society Director
Geoffrey Simpson Revolver/Will O’Rourke Director of Photography
Jordan Maddocks Revolver/Will O’Rourke 2nd Unit DOP

Why is this work relevant for PR?

With a media budget of $0 we needed to create a universal idea that would have a strong hook for media. We found that in Curing Homesickness, it was a completely new way of thinking about children in hospital. With our brand partners we were able to pitch a wide range of placements, for example with Coles we secured stories in food and recipe publications such as Taste Magazine, with Assembly Label we secured fashion placements including in Vogue, and with Disney we secured entertainment placements such as in Concrete Playground.

Background

Even before COVID, private charitable donations were falling like a stone: 8% year-on-year 2016-8. Furthermore, between 2016-19, there were 3,953 new charities and foundations formed. A shrinking pie was being cut into even more pieces. Sydney Children’s Hospitals Foundation (SCHF), Australia’s largest paediatric healthcare entity needed help. The variety of illnesses and injuries that are treated by the Network, the types of care that they offer and the research that they fund is vast. The trouble with this diversity is two-fold: comprehension and identification. In the face of donation fatigue, competitive congestion and increasing economic volatility, our brief was to generate additional, sustainable funds with a good return on investment. We also had some clear parameters: 1. Do not cannibalise existing fundraising efforts 2. No paid media budget 3. Costs (time and investment) to manage needed to be largely externalised so we didn’t put additional stress on the existing team

Describe the creative idea (20% of vote)

Faced with this context, we concluded that SCHF needed a donation platform that would help them stand out. A single-minded, universal cause to be a magnet for donations: something that everybody could identify with. When we spoke to staff, parents and children a clear commonality emerged, children suffer twice in hospital: firstly, from their afflictions, but secondly from the mental and emotional trauma of being away from family, friends and home comforts. Homesickness affects over 90% of children in hospital with 50% suffering from severe forms of homesickness. So, we created a new initiative: ‘Curing Homesickness’ – a campaign to get kids back to where they belong: home. Homesickness is something we have all felt and we can all identify with. The feeling of hopelessness from being away from home. Research has shown people tend to donate to causes that align with their own experiences, giving our campaign universal appeal.

Describe the PR strategy (30% of vote)

With a clear ambition and an evocative platform, we came up with a bold idea. We had a loose narrative in our heads about a child in hospital pining for their mum’s pasta sauce. But we wanted it to be far more than just an engaging story. We wanted to turn this sauce into a source of revenue in the real world: by creating a brand synonymous with homesickness. It would need to be a brand, in and of itself, not just a temporary SKU or rebadging of an existing brand. This is radically different to the pay-to-play system; where brands pay a set fee to charities to rebadge an existing product, exchanging a one-time payment for the social goodwill it provides to the brand. For it we had a working title: Mum’s Sauce (subsequently changed to Mum’s Sause to mirror a child misspelling).

Describe the PR execution (20% of vote)

For each partner, we developed fundraising mechanics and individual comms strategies, harnessing their own data, spokespeople, influencers and real-life case studies to extend the conversation further and attract national coverage. The variety of partners meant we could extend the coverage of our campaign and leverage each brand’s own media list and reach their respective audiences. In total we worked with 47 brands including Coles, Assembly Label, Disney and Pasta Pantry. For each we developed their own bespoke multi-channel earned, owned and leveraged PR strategies. We secured ambassadors such as supermodel Gemma Ward for an exclusive with Vogue, or Hamish Blake and Rose Byrne for entertainment placements, among others. We designed events for Event Cinemas and Marvel, Pasta Pantry each securing multiple media placements. The variety of placements and ability to twist our campaign across demographics and interests increased the impressions and frequency significantly.

List the results (30% of vote)

1. With zero media spend: 162 million earned media impressions, and $4.6m in donated media: with the backing of Coles, media partners jumped to join. 2. Coles have since expanded the range to 3 different types of pasta sauce. It was the #1 selling sauce for 3 weeks during launch and over a 1.5 million jars sold – and counting. 3. It’s a source of passive income with Coles absorbing NPD/distribution costs so no additional strain on the SCFH team. 4. Coles continues to support the campaign with instore fundraising and promotion, now we have raised over $2 million – and counting. 5. The campaign achieved an ROI of over 300% The ‘Mum’s’ trademark is registered and owned by SCHF, so we can extend range and lines off it. This is just the beginning. Now we have a predictable source of revenue in extremely unpredictable times.

Please tell us how the brand purpose inspired the work

SCHF brand purpose is ‘Healthy Kids – whatever it takes’. Their mission is ‘connecting paediatric research and clinical practice with donors who are inspired to create positive change’. The Curing Homesickness was inspired by the SCHF’s innovative and creative approach to fundraising to counter the rapid rise in the demand for - and cost of - clinical care for children. Equally important, as a registered charity is to operate efficiently – any dollar lost to operating cost is one which does not go to helping sick children. Curing Homesickness and Mum’s Sause therefore is directly a result of the SCHF brand. A completely new way to raise funds by leveraging the largest supermarket chain in Australia to create, market and sell a pasta sauce. An enduring donation mechanic reaching new audiences with the costs externalised.

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