Every year, Marie Curie’s 2,100 nurses provide free care to more than 40,000 people suffering from terminal illnesses and support for their family and friends. They make it possible for patients to die in their own beds, surrounded by the people they love. But while aware of Marie Curie’s Great Daffodil Appeal, a fundraising month in which supporters are asked to buy and wear a daffodil pin, research found that people are less aware of what the charity does, which leads to lower engagement and donations. Agency Hope&Glory was tasked with launching the 2017 Great Daffodil Appeal and also creating a better understanding of the charity’s work.
At the heart of the challenge, however, is the fact that there are few happy stories. The patients its nurses care for will die: there are no cures. The campaign started with the basics. Interviewing focus groups of bereaved families who had not experienced Marie Curie care revealed distressing stories of people dying alone, alien hospital environments, fights with bureaucracy and battles for better care. Many were left with tainted memories of their loved ones’ last days. The strategy that emerged from these findings was to highlight the positive legacy of happy memories that Marie Curie helps those living with terminal disease to leave behind. The heroes of the campaign were to be the nurses.
The Great Daffodil Appeal was launched with the Marie Curie Garden of Light, an art installation of 2,100 handmade daffodils, each one representing a nurse. Glowing through the night, the Garden demonstrated how the nurses support patients and families through their darkest hours. Motion sensitive audio shared letters written to Marie Curie nurses thanking them for their work. A memory wall allowed visitors to leave a note with a happy memory of a loved one they had lost. The installation was created in Paternoster Square in the shadow of St Paul’s Cathedral, which provided a high footfall location and an eye-catching background for photography. The installation was in place for 12 days in London before moving to Edinburgh and Belfast.
The judges described this campaign as ‘outstanding’. It achieved 160 items of editorial coverage, including 25 pieces in key national titles, while Marie Curie’s website saw a 166 per cent increase in traffic in the two days following the launch. More importantly, perhaps, postcampaign research revealed that 63 per cent of those who were aware of the Garden of Light said it had increased their understanding of Marie Curie’s work while 59 per cent said they were more likely to donate as a result.