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Light up Xmas: The Memory Tree

Marie Curie

Agency: Hope&Glory


Marie Curie provides free care to around 50,000 people every year who are suffering from terminal illness, in many cases allowing them to die in their own beds, and also offers support for their family and friends. But many people wrongly assume that it is a cancer charity or are unaware of its role, which results in lower levels of engagement and donations. It needed a cause that would motivate the public and demonstrated how donations would be used.


Research had revealed that many bereaved families, who had not experienced Marie Curie care towards the end of their relative’s life, suffered traumatic or terrible times. These tainted their last memories of the people they had lost. Drawing on these findings indicated that Marie Curie’s purpose was not just to care for those with illness but to ensure that those who love them are left with a positive legacy.


Working with Hope&Glory, Marie Curie created the world’s first memory-powered Christmas tree on the South Bank, in the shadow of the London Eye, in December 2017 with 2,100 lights - each one representing a Marie Curie nurse. The tree was linked to three social media networks - Facebook, Instagram and Twitter - and each time somebody tweeted messages or memories celebrating somebody they would miss at Christmas, using the hashtag #LightUpXmas, the lights would glow a little brighter.


The Memory Tree was first revealed to the media, generating more than 40 pieces of coverage with image-led pieces across publications, such as The Daily Telegraph, Evening Standard and Time Out. Videos of the tree, bringing the creative to life, were shared on social media, and taken up by international titles, such as MSN and AOL. These were ultimately watched by more than 12 million people. 


In the first week, there were more than 580 messages using the hashtag while 413 people shared messages. More than 850 accounts reference the campaign, reaching more than 1.1 million people around 4.3 times. There were also more than 300 mentions on Facebook and Instagram, reaching 400,000 people. 


Influencer moments were used after the campaign launched to provide a new boost. Marie Curie ambassador and singer Peter Andre visited the tree one week after its installation, which led to another wave of media coverage - including articles in Closer and Hello, while his social media posts prompted a further 400 messages, reaching 5.2 million people. A tweet from Stephen Fry carrying the video triggered more than 425 messages, with a further reach of 13.2 million in a single day. Well-known Instagram influencers also visited the tree, prompting yet more mentions of #LightUpXmas. 


Over two weeks, #LightUpXmas was mentioned more than 2,800 times on Twitter, reaching 17 million people on average 2.18 times each. On Facebook and Instagram, there were more than 1,200 mentions reaching more than eight million people. 


The campaign impacted these who saw it. Research revealed that 32 per cent of Britons were aware of the Memory Tree; of these, 49 per cent said it had increased their awareness of Marie Curie while 51 per cent said they were likely to donate as a result.