Teenage Cancer Trust’s favourite feat: creating a legendary running campaign

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Chloe George, Content Manager at Teenage Cancer Trust, talked running and fundraising at Raw London’s Your Best Content Campaign event last Thursday. 

Chloe’s session, Our favourite feat: creating a legendary running campaign, shared how Teenage Cancer Trust made the most of their recent partnership with the Virgin Money London Marathon. Chloe explained how creating online communities helped to drive fundraising among runners, and how they found a campaign concept that was simple, clear and flexible while able to cut above the noise and work for multiple audiences.

Recognise the opportunity

Back in 2016, Teenage Cancer Trust applied to be Charity of the Year Partner for 2018 for Virgin Money London Marathon. In April that year, 2 years before the event, they were chosen as the winner. This was a big achievement and an bigger opportunity. Previous partners such as Cancer Research UK and Anthony Nolan had huge success in raising funds and brand awareness in the year’s prior, so Chloe and her team were keen to make the most of the opportunity.

Build legendary partnerships

Chloe explained that their winning pitch was based on creating a ‘legendary partnership’. This concept combined Virgin Money’s well-known strap line with Teenage Cancer Trust’s own cheeky brand style; ‘There’s partnerships, then there’s legendary partnerships’.

This theme was led by a legendary aim: that every single young person with cancer is able to benefit from Teenage Cancer Trust’s services. The message was easily adapted across multiple audiences – from the legendary young people they support, to the nurses and even the volunteers. So, the ‘Be a Legend’ campaign was born.

Set yourself apart from the crowd

As well as an allocated number of runners, Chloe explained that Teenage Cancer Trust also had the opportunity to convert other people who had received their ballots for the marathon. This is a highly competitive space with many charities offering similar incentives to convince runners to fundraise on their behalf. They knew they had to do things differently and were keen to step away from regular fundraising and cause-related campaigns to set them apart from the crowd and enhance the runner experience.

Use your brand personality

‘Be a Legend’ is a perfect manifestation of the teenage spirit that’s integral to the brand. It’s also inclusive and works for different audiences – people understand what it means to call someone a legend!

It also helped to connect with high profile supporters and ambassadors. Like him or loathe him, it was a great opportunity to work with Russell Brand on the below video. They invested paid media to promote the video, and were able to work with Unilad as well as other celebrities to share it and extend the reach.

Make sure your content works across channels

One of the most successful elements of the concept is that it’s so storytelling friendly. This allowed the charity to create lots of different types of content across a whole range of channels. Social content, for example, was built around the idea that whoever runs for Teenage Cancer Trust is a legend. This led to some fun, tongue-in-cheek assets for social media.

This developed into social profiles around being ‘a legend in training’, which saw runners starting to use the language themselves – #TeamLegend. It was also successful across email databases, SMS marketing, Paid Facebook ads and with celebrity contacts.

What did success look like?

  • The aim was to raise £1.3 million. The actual amount raised was £1.6 million.
  • Teenage Cancer Trust recruited more runners than targeted.
  • The average gift was higher than the aim.
  • 89% of runners rated the charity excellent (9% above the target).

what can we learn?

  • Do try to win the VMLM partnership! It’s a huge amount of work but a great opportunity.
  • Creating a Facebook group for your fundraising can generate powerful peer-to-peer engagement and camaraderie.
  • Train your runners for fundraising, not just for fitness – raising money while training is a tall order so offer support in this area too!
  • Find a campaign concept that is clear and flexible for different audiences and channels.
  • Use your brand to your advantage – push the limits to make it sit better with your audience.
  • Cut above the noise, used a language people were already using.


This is a summary of a lightning talk from Raw London’s event Your Best Content Campaign, Thursday 15 November 2018 at Bertha Dochouse, Curzon Bloomsbury.

**Download the slides here.**


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