It’s that time of year AGAIN: Running an annual campaign on a budget

Kate Sanger Jo's Trust

Kate Sanger, Head of Communications and Public Affairs at Jo’s Trust, spoke at our latest Relay event, Mass Participation: Inspiration, Innovation, and Content, about that time of year AGAIN: Running an annual campaign on a budget.


Jo’s Trust run #SmearforSmear, an annual campaign that’s been running for 5 years. They created it out of a need to boost smear test numbers, which were at an all time low when they dreamt up the idea.

The concept is a really simple and visual one – participants smear lipstick across their face, take a selfie, and upload it to social accompanied by a caption about smear tests.

The campaign was initially launched with a press release and as much celebrity, MP, and influencer buy-in as the team could get, which created a major buzz in year one!

Initiating conversations

The campaign has always been solely about awareness and so Jo’s Trust carefully targeted influencers with a goal of creating conversations about smear tests underneath their posts.

#SmearForSmear was led by insight that people found smear tests scary and a little overwhelming. To remedy this, Kate and the team produced the video below with myth-busting, tips, and explanations of the process to help people feel at ease with the idea of going.

Listening and learning

A difficulty that the team consistently face is having to keep an annual campaign fresh that has been running for 5 years. To help them keep approaching the campaign in different ways, they now rely on social listening and learning year-round to see what people’s questions are and what problems they can address for the coming year’s campaign.

Early on, the team decided on a strategy to keep the ask minimal and straightforward to ensure it was as simple as possible to get involved and maximise participation. The cornerstone of the campaign has always been to remind, encourage, and stoke conversation, to help get smear tests front of mind.

Varied content

Kate’s other key piece of advice on keeping an annual campaign relevant, was that it’s vital to plan in a social strategy that can deal with the dips in content that are inevitable over the course of a few weeks. The team made sure to build out a robust content calendar, and also approached influencers from diverse sectors each year to produce content that would engage different demographics. This year, for example, they reached out to the West Ham women’s football team, who produced their own video and pushed it out through their own networks to get the message seen by new audiences.

The campaign launches again in January and Kate had already started testing key messaging, as getting started early and testing, testing, testing is seen by her and the team as the foundation that has helped #SmearForSmear evolve and grow over the last 5 years!

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