Distilling the evidence about alcohol-related cancers
In January 2023, Canada’s new Guidance on Alcohol and Health was released. The new guidance reduces the maximum number of drinks for minimal to low risk to health from 10 drinks/week for women and 15 drinks/week for men to 2 drinks/week for everyone.
To provide B.C. residents with evidence-based information about the new guidance and to improve public knowledge about the links between alcohol consumption and cancer, BC Cancer, a provider of a comprehensive cancer control program in partnership with B.C.’s regional health authorities, was seeking a creative agency to develop and execute a province-wide, multi-channel, alcohol and cancer awareness campaign.
It would be the first media campaign from a Canadian cancer agency about the link between alcohol consumption and cancer since the new guidance was launched, and BC Cancer wanted to ensure that audiences didn’t feel alienated or judged by the campaign’s messaging. For many people alcohol has deep social and cultural roots—and the change would likely be confusing and unwelcome to some. After a comprehensive research and community engagement process, campaign strategizing, and the development of a website and interactive tools, we launched an effective, eye-catching campaign that got straight to the point: Alcohol causes cancer.
digital ad impressions
of people surveyed reported that they were likely to drink less after seeing the campaign
quiz responses to self-assess alcohol-related cancer risk
Understanding the campaign’s objective and purpose
In collaboration with the BC Cancer team and the B.C. Ministry of Health, we carried out a thorough research process, including a comprehensive background review of documents provided by the client, along with Canada’s new Guidance on Alcohol and Health, to ensure that we fully understood the campaign’s purpose and background.
Ultimately, we presented three distinct campaign concepts to the BC Cancer team. The concept that was selected—The Proof—used attractive and modern imagery that the public would typically associate with alcohol brands and their advertising campaigns, juxtaposed with strong evidence-based messaging to communicate the evidence linking alcohol to several types of cancer and the total number of alcohol-related cancers in Canada.
Once the concept was refined, we conducted focus groups with participants from across B.C., soliciting feedback on a variety of potential campaign ads, which confirmed that the fact-based, non-judgemental tone of the initial mockups for the campaign assets was effective and approachable.
Strategy and development
Partnering with content creators
In addition to running ads from BC Cancer’s Instagram account, we recruited and onboarded B.C.-based Instagram content creators to produce video content in support of the campaign. Working with these creators maximized the reach of the campaign’s message, aligned with the campaign’s goals, and uniquely and authentically engaged audiences.
Based on work with one of our Instagram content creators, we also feature a zero-proof cocktail recipe page as a tool the audience can use should they want alternatives to their alcoholic drinks.
Overall, The Proof website conveys evidence-based information in a non-judgemental, non-stigmatizing way, and takes a friendly, empathetic tone in providing useful “tips and tricks” to moderate alcohol consumption.
We engaged a total of 275 individuals, comprising:
- 227 online pop-up survey respondents
- 48 in-person survey respondents
of online respondents who reported having “poor” or “fair” knowledge of the link between alcohol and cancer reported having “good”, “very good”, or “excellent” knowledge after seeing the campaign.
of online respondents reported that they would likely drink less as a result of seeing the campaign.
of in-person respondents reported that receiving a result of having a high risk for alcohol-related cancer from the quiz would encourage them to drink less.