Inserting symptoms into everyday conversation

Bowel Cancer UK

Tell Your GP Instead

Bowel cancer is the UK’s fourth most common cancer and the second biggest cause of cancer deaths. But it doesn’t have to be this way – it’s a treatable and curable disease if caught early. As part of Bowel Cancer UK’s mission to remove barriers to getting a diagnosis quickly, we were tasked to create a campaign that would encourage more people to see their GP if they experience symptoms associated with bowel cancer.

Getting to the bottom of it

To have the biggest impact possible, Bowel Cancer UK had developed a behaviour change strategy targeting those least likely to recognise and act on possible symptoms. Our challenge was to develop an attention-grabbing campaign that would connect with these new audiences and prompt them to consider visiting their GP if they’re experiencing symptoms.

Initially, Bowel Cancer UK worked with people over 50 who may have deeply held attitudes towards their health and the NHS, to understand their reluctance to contact their GP. As we began the creative work, we also formed a creative council – made up of people with similar mindsets – to shape the campaign words, images and messaging to make sure it would resonate successfully.

Talking about your symptoms is great

Our audience weren’t connecting their symptoms to bowel cancer, and if they were, they’d often find it too embarrassing to talk about them. ‘Tell Your GP Instead’ aims to get people to notice these symptoms by inserting them unexpectedly into everyday conversation, and in doing so, help to normalise the act of talking about them.

The resulting tone of the campaign is light-hearted, whilst landing some gentle urgency to act and without trivialising the issue. The support messaging needed to be reassuring, provide hope around the treatments and provide clarity on what to do. By giving people the language to use with their doctor and reinforcing their permission to act, we hoped to help overcome their embarrassment to seek out support.

Visually, we developed an illustrated approach that is vibrant and eye-catching. Working with illustrator, Lenè Van Heerden to bring the campaign to life. This allowed us to inject some personality into the characters whilst keeping the visuals clean and direct, so people could understand the message quickly.

The campaign is being rolled out nationally across print, OOH, digital and radio.