Cancer Research UK’s annual fundraising campaign Stand Up To Cancer reaches 2m people on Facebook and Instagram with its positive, but frank, video stories of cancer patients and survivors, raising awareness of the cause and encouraging discussion.


Cancer Research UK’s annual fundraising event Stand Up To Cancer shared video stories of cancer patients and survivors in a social-first campaign, to support its main fundraising activity during September and October 2018.

The charity sought to create positive content with a defiant feel by telling the stories of supporters who are ‘standing up to cancer’ through their attitude or actions, opting for ‘rough and ready’ (rather than ‘polished to perfection’) selfie-style filming, which was mixed with user-generated content and b-roll (supplementary) footage. To encourage discussion, the charity did not shy away from hard topics like vaginal cancer, bowel cancer and amputations.

Through organic and paid activity the campaign reached 2m people, achieved nearly 1m views, and had 32,000 interactions (comments, likes and shares).

Objectives & Aims

By sharing stories of current patients and survivors telling their own stories about their fight against the disease, and in their own ways, the charity wanted to encourage audiences to join the campaign and help make a difference.

“We wanted to really hero those involved and focus on the human element of their story that our audiences could relate to, leaving viewers feeling inspired and motivated,” Stand Up To Cancer said. The content would need to be powerful, disruptive and distinct, creating a point of difference from the emotional appeal films the charity creates with Channel 4 and highly polished case study films created by other charities.

Stand Up To Cancer also wanted this to be a social-first campaign, increasing brand awareness and reach across its channels. Another goal was to generate discussion and interest around cancers and treatments that people may be reluctant to talk about openly.

Implementation, Execution & Tactics

As part of the social-first approach, videos were kept to one minute in length. The videos were posted to both the Stand Up To Cancer and Cancer Research UK social channels to first reach a warmer audience and to build a larger audience to target with paid ads. It took a targeted approach, tailoring its efforts to warm/cold, male/female audiences using a blend of Facebook and Instagram, adjusting targeting according to the case study.

When bidding for video views, the objective was set to ten seconds rather than three seconds so the charity could hit audiences with a longer attention span.


In total, the campaign reached 2m people, had nearly 1m video views and saw 32,000 interactions across paid and organic social media.

On the Stand Up To Cancer and Cancer Research UK channels, the campaign had an organic reach of 850,000, and 264,000 video views. Through the paid campaign, which had a modest spend, the charity reached 1.2m people with the videos and counted 690,000 video views.

While the charity saw high viewing figures through the paid campaign across both the Stand Up To Cancer Instagram and Facebook accounts, the videos were particularly popular on Instagram, which saw more views and engagement per follower than the Stand Up To Cancer Facebook account.

The charity concluded that the style and content of the videos suited the Instagram audience and resonated with the users on that channel, which is  something it will explore with future content.

Combining paid activity across Facebook and Instagram for some of the stories resulted in a lower cost per view, and therefore higher viewing figures. Setting the video views objective to ten seconds helped the charity hit audiences with a longer attention span, leading to a low cost per view (£0.02) and allowing it to reach a much larger audience than it had anticipated.