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SDG3 target 3.4: By 2030, reduce by one third premature mortality from non-communicable diseases through prevention and treatment and promote mental health and well-being.


increase in orders of bowel cancer screening tests


rise in search enquiries for 'bowel cancer'

Where:  Australia

The challenge:

Bowel cancer is the second deadliest cancer killer in Australia and more than 100 people die of the disease every week. However, there is a misconception that it’s an ‘old person’s’ disease’ and consequently multiple public health messages were not cutting through.  

Younger Australians thought the existing messaging was irrelevant in both tone and subject, and people in general did not put the disease high enough on their list of health concerns. 

Not-for-profit Bowel Cancer Australia (BCA) wanted to grab attention, and it knew the usual approach to disease awareness communications needed a shake-up. We worked with BCA on identifying levers for behavioural change among the target demographic and created a campaign that connected and drove home the educational messages required directly through advertising and via PR amplification.  

The execution:  

We developed a strong tone of voice and humorous edge to catch the ear of previously indifferent Australians for the ‘Give A $#*! About Your Bowel’ campaign – the first activation of a planned three years of activity. The bowel had a literal presence thanks to a CGI transparent human figure and was given a real voice – actually the colloquial tones of well-known comedian ‘Bill Bowelly’ (Bill Bailey).  

Throughout Bowel Cancer Awareness month, always-on advertising ran across TV, radio, social media, online and out of home. PR amplified the conversation at key points, unpacking the emotional side of the story with bowel cancer survivors’ stories and leveraging geographical incidence data to secure the attention of regional media. 

The results: 

The use of humour and a widely-recognisable voice stimulated curiosity and drove conversation. The approach appealed to both the media and the general public, ensuring bowel cancer was recognised as an important health concern.  

The fresh approach to a topic previously not often aired resulted in 277 pieces of coverage in the media over the four-week campaign with a potential reach of more than 3.2 million people. Gruen, 7 News Melbourne and ABC News Breakfast all covered the topic. 

The call to action resulted in an increase in orders of bowel cancer screening tests of 60% and a rise in search enquiries for ‘bowel cancer’ of 150%. The campaign also explicitly called on the Government for increased colonoscopy funding and highlighted statistics revealing lengthy wait-times across the country. This resulted in certain states increasing funding for colonoscopies. Lives have undoubtedly been saved thanks to this innovative campaign concept. 

Check out more inspiring examples of our work on SDG3.