Marie Curie: Exploring the right ways to talk about death to translate attitudes and behaviours into a coherent and compelling communication strategy

Marie Curie: Exploring the right ways to talk about death to translate attitudes and behaviours into a coherent and compelling communication strategy

Marie Curie was seen as an end-of-life ‘cancer support’ (sic) charity, its perceived relevance narrow and its funding streams restricted. With an ageing population and a sharp increase expected in the number of deaths over the next 20 years, there was scope to become a home of expertise and support.

But the instinct of most people is to ignore the prospect of death, often until too late to formulate and communicate information and end-of-life needs, wishes and plans.

 We moderated sensitively staged discussions with those close to the charity and cause and those further away, progressing conversation from attitudes and behaviours to communication strategies. We argued that the avoidance strategies could and should be tackled directly: not aggressively nor flippantly but in a way that was sticky and could engage.

It would require bravery – there would be some push-back, but if the campaign rationale were clear, it would aid rather than harm the brand.

The ‘Whatever you call it’ campaign was launched in 2019, the lead-in to a full proposition with a suite of resources from podcasts to conversation cards to help people address the topic of death and dying.  The advertising reached 77% of the UK’s 45+ market, and more than 6 million people were reached on Facebook alone. The brand was one of only six to sustain or improve its place in the most loved charities brand indexes of 2020 and 2021.