‘Interaction was key’ – Behind the Campaign of Cancer Research

Nov 6, 2020

Groovy Gecko have partnered with Cancer Research UK since March 2020 to turn their physical events into interactive virtual experiences. 

Jake Ward, Business Development Director at Groovy Gecko, gives the lowdown on CRUK’s Race For Life and other events.


what was the campaign in a nutshell?

Due to the pandemic, Cancer Research UK’s renowned mass-participation events were cancelled for 2020. The charity, seeking a way for its supporters to continue to connect from home as well as take part in vital fundraising, worked with us to produce a series of highly interactive virtual events with celebrities and community members alike.


how did the idea come into being?

CRUK acted quickly at the beginning of lockdown to take its mass-participation events online with the launch of the Race for Life at Home in April. In a matter of weeks, we helped shape its ideas to ensure the events were as interactive as possible for the CRUK community.

Interaction was key or the events would never fill the void left from the [in-person] mass-participation events. CRUK wanted to ensure the community spirit of the event series shone through. By putting our Realm Live Questions tool into the livestreams, we enabled viewers to interact from home.

The success of the first Race for Life at Home events led to a series of other events in the months since – including a five-hour streamed Relay Live event, which was essentially a highly produced live TV show.

what ideas were rejected?

Due to the urgency to adapt these events as a result of lockdown there really wasn’t time for ideas to be rejected!


briefly describe the campaign planning and process.

CRUK approached us to discuss its ideas for taking events online – a first for the charity, and no mean feat in the short timeframe we had. We worked together to iron out the best way to adapt the events while working remotely.

For the first event series of Race for Life, celebrities such as singer Jake Quickenden and TV presenter Chloe Madeley led workouts that were streamed into people’s homes. Viewers were able to submit questions and share personal experiences in a private pop-up box on-screen that were then moderated by the hosts.

After the success of these streams, each with a short turnaround basis of two to three weeks, we continued to deliver additional events in the months following. We liaised directly with the client and hired a producer and freelance editor for Relay Live to ensure the moving parts, including editing video tapes and rehearsing with celebrities, were seamless to viewers.


What were the biggest challenges and how did you overcome them?

While there were no technical issues or dropped calls during the larger-scale streamed events, it was challenging getting everyone on and off the event seamlessly – particularly with the stream being live and with each person and celebrity involved being in different remote locations.

The size of the larger events, such as Relay Live, also presented some challenges as each stream required a lot of management. Many different people were involved in order to manage rehearsals as well as the varying durations of streams. One example would be a lady who was completing a marathon walk and would call in every hour and be featured live on screen.

There were elements that were more complicated in practice. This is to be expected with more than 30 individuals across the UK, all with different internet speeds, doing rehearsals and taking part in various livestreams. However, we got it done by working with CRUK to co-ordinate the streams via seven live links.


How did you measure the results and what were they?

Thanks to the interactive nature of the events, CRUK achieved more than 280,000 total views and over 2,600 comments were sent in as people were inspired to get involved. Although there are many different ways and places to donate, making it difficult to pinpoint exactly how much has been raised as a result of the live events, the total is expected to be in the hundreds of thousands of pounds.


What’s the biggest lesson you took away from the campaign?

Managing staff remotely has been a factor to consider this year. We had team members in the office and working from home, so having extra staff on standby would have helped with the scale of the larger productions.


This article was originally published on PR Week.