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Macmillan Brave the Shave Campaign


Macmillan Cancer Support

For the moments, for the motivations, for everyone living with cancer.

Since its launch in 2015, Brave the Shave has raised over £16.8 million for Macmillan Cancer Support. With thousands of people braving the shave last year, 89% of whom had a close friend or family member with a cancer diagnosis, Macmillan were looking to take what is already a hugely successful ask and create a fresh and engaging campaign to spread the word even further.

We kicked off the project with our Creative Director, Lee, picking up the clippers and braving the shave for Macmillan – and we were all astounded how much was raised, it was more than double our goal. Friends, family, colleagues and clients all donated extremely generously and the engagement from everyone throughout was amazing.

Starting the project this way enabled us to witness firsthand how Brave the Shave not only raises vital funds and is a fantastic way for people to do something amazing in the name of loved ones who may be affected by cancer, it really brought everyone together.


The Heartbeat

This is for...

Tying in with an overall brand refresh for Macmillan, we wanted to make sure every aspect of Brave the Shave was unified, inspiring and accessible. This meant rethinking how photography was used to capture the shaves themselves, how copy could create a cohesive journey from radio ads to envelopes and creating an advertising campaign that was both eye-catching and true to the heartfelt reasons behind people’s shaves.

Running through all aspects of our work on Brave the Shave is the priority to keep the focus on the motivations of the shaver and the person that inspired them to Brave the Shave – the person in their lives, or outside of it, that they are doing it for.

The campaign is brought together with the line ‘This is for.’ It is used as motivations on our adverts and posters to voice shavers’ dedications; from highly personal reasons such as ‘this is for my sister’ to universal reasons such as ‘this is for everyone living with cancer’. It also features on communication sent out to shavers; from the welcome pack’s envelope featuring a big and bold illustrated pair of clippers holding the line ‘This is for you’ to the thank you pack’s letter opening with the line ‘This is to say thank you for doing something amazing’.

Our campaign heroes the shaver, placing them in direct conversation with the audience, proud of their action, and uses a first-person personal motivation as a headline. This allows us to represent the event simply, in all its glory, and to celebrate the people taking part.

We want to promote life and living and inspire others to think about how they might get involved and for whom they might Brave the Shave.

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Connecting with future brave shavers

Macmillan’s research indicated that the majority of Brave the Shave sign ups were now directed from digital advertising, Facebook non-static being particularly effective.

We created a suite of ads ranging from those targeted at people cold to the cause, to those shown to people who had started their registration. Adverts ranged from engaging animated clippers moving across the screen to reveal copy to carousels revealing Sallie’s shave story.


Welcome Pack

Making the journey one to remember

From the minute they hear the thud of letters on the doormat and see a big, purple envelope, emblazoned with a bold illustration of clippers announcing ‘this is for you’, to when they receive their thank you pack complete with certificate and enamel badge, we wanted to bring excitement and joy to brave shavers’ journeys.

Being the first time Macmillan’s new brand guidelines were being used on print collateral, we wanted to ensure that we worked with the guidelines to create something as fresh and bold as the brand’s new vision.

To keep each person’s journey feeling individual to them, we used photography sparingly, and instead used Macmillan’s distinctive bright colours and boldly graphic illustrations to create a pack that is simple, fun and engaging – all with universal appeal.


Thanking pack

After people had braved the shave, we wanted to give them something that would both express Macmillan’s huge gratitude as well as something to keep forever. Therefore, our thank you pack includes a handwritten message from someone living with cancer – such as Hannah, who is living with leukaemia and has been helped by Macmillan – as well as a personalised certificate and even a small enamel badge that can be worn for years to come.


On the road

At the very heart of Brave the Shave are all the people, with their myriad motivations, that actually make the decision to shave their heads – and by doing so change the lives of those living with cancer.

Therefore it made sense to hit the road to witness someone braving the shave – in this case, Sallie, who braved the shave for her sister, who was living cancer, across video and photography, our priority being that we were there to document the process as it unfolded organically.

This took us to Hope Concrete Works, nestled in the Peak District, where Sallie had her head shaved by her partner, surrounded by loved ones and colleagues, all whilst her sister watched via iPad, cheering her on and calling for the clippers to be set to ever-lower grades.


Real life, real motivations

With previous campaigns, we felt the personal and individual nature of each person’s shave was not coming across – and a lot of this was due to the shots being taken in a studio. Our new photography look and feel was genuine, relaxed and uplifting, which we achieved by shooting shavers in their own environments with natural light. Our photography was a mode of observation rather than setting the stage.

The headlines would be spoken directly from the subject of the portrait to the audience and would comprise the brave shaver’s dedication. The constant line ‘this is for’ created a link between all our posters and collateral.


The Results

What we created is a rounded campaign that drives motivations as the primary driver. Using heartfelt dedications, authentic photography and bold, colourful illustrations across multiple touch points have given the ask a presence that is both uplifting and engaging whilst staying true to the highly personal and often poignant reasons people choose to Brave the Shave. Which is really important – we’ve managed to maintain to the excitement of the ask as well as create an output sympathetic to sufferers, connecting purpose to the fundraising activity and the motive behind taking part.

If you’d like to Brave the Shave, we would wholeheartedly encourage you to do so. Go on!

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