We spoke to Pamela Mollica, EVP Marketing & Communications, and Mitchell Praw, Director, Brand Marketing, about the recent launch of the new ‘It takes a society’ brand platform for the Canadian Cancer Society. Here’s what they shared:

FOUNDATION: The Daffodil and the Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) brand has a lot of legacy, equity, and brand power in Canada.  What was the pivot point that signaled it was time for a brand refresh?

Pam: You’re right, we have a very strong and recognizable brand in Canada and are working hard to keep awareness of CCS high.  Since our last brand refresh nearly 5 years ago, we have adopted a new purpose statement as well as a new mission, vision and values. We’ve moved from a vision of creating a world where no one fears cancer to embracing a new purpose focused on uniting and inspiring people to take control of cancer. We’ve also updated our organizational values: CCS is courageous, united, caring and rigorous. We needed a brand platform that reflected these changes.

Mitchell: We are also now on the other side of several years of uncertainty and challenge. Like many organizations around the world, the COVID-19 pandemic applied pressure on CCS, causing us to rethink how we served the people who need us. But together, we rallied. We found ways to deliver our mission, engage supporters and challenge ourselves to be innovative. Because of this hard work together, we are now growing, we are making progress in cancer prevention, treatment and care, and every day we are there for people affected by cancer.

With CCS well-poised to take on new challenges and opportunities, the timing was right to reimagine our brand, nation-wide.

Stage 4 Cancer Survivor Harjeet Kaur – One of three individuals featured in the “It takes a society” campaign.


FOUNDATION: A major brand platform re-design doesn’t happen overnight! Can you speak to us about the strategy and process that brought you from the decision to develop a new campaign until now?

Pam: We started this process more than a year ago with market research to help inform our work and the direction we wanted to take the CCS brand. We know the majority of our donors are older and there was an opportunity for us to start thinking about a younger audience. The market research revealed that our competitors’ donors are not only younger, but they’re more diverse and more likely to donate to charities that have an impact in their communities.

Mitchell: We also saw an opportunity to improve our relevance. Together with our fantastic creative agency partner, Juliet, we worked to reimagine the brand to convey why the work we do matters to every person in Canada. We wanted to energize the cause to get more people to see CCS as “a charity for me” – so that we could grow our audience and ultimately encourage more people across the country to join and support us.

FOUNDATION: What does “It takes a society” mean to you, to CCS, and what are you hoping it does to act as a rallying cry for the donor base and potential new audience?

Pam: We all know the expression “It takes a village.” When the team started developing this particular It takes a society idea, we knew we had something special here. We understood that it would resonate deeply and distinguish CCS in the marketplace. It does a great job at reflecting our core values – courageous, united, caring and rigorous. It shows us to be a leader and uniter, but it also honours something that is deeply true about cancer: that it is big, and it is complex. And any kind of progress – better treatments, better care, better support – can only happen when we work together. Importantly, It takes a society captures the need for the cause to involve everyone. We think it has the ability to inspire people to recognize that everyone has a part to play and motivate them to join us.

Mitchell: It takes a society is also broad enough to enable us to have conversations about cancer’s most complex issues that are deeply relevant to our many different audiences. We can talk about how we’re engaging on issues like health equity, access to care, mental health, and so on. All of these issues require people to come together to find solutions.

By opening the door to these difficult, important and meaningful conversations, we believe It takes a society will help grow our supporter base – appealing to new audiences while adding dimension to and deepening relationships with our longstanding supporters.

Pam: This new brand platform marks a bold new chapter for CCS and will play a critical role in guiding us for several years to come. It makes a promise that we will show determination, courage and leadership, uniting people across the country, in the face of this disease. Across all our communications, we want to demonstrate the impact that one person can have when they combine their actions with the actions of others. Ultimately, our goal is to inspire people of all ages, from all backgrounds and all parts of the country to come together to take on cancer’s biggest issues.

Cancer researcher Dr. Lee-Hwa Tai – One of three individuals featured in the “It takes a society” campaign.


FOUNDATION: When you look back on the campaign once it’s over, what will success look like for CCS?

Mitchell: Of course, we hope that people have a positive reaction to the videos and other materials we’ve developed for the brand campaign. We’ll know the campaign is a success when more people join our cause: as volunteers, partners, advocates, event participants, fundraisers, donors and staff members.

We are a charity and the vast majority of our funding comes from individual donations, so ultimately the goal is that It takes a society will resonate emotionally with people, making them feel that donating to the Canadian Cancer Society will have a significant and direct impact on lives of people with cancer – in their families, their communities and across the country.

FOUNDATION: How is CCS mobilizing the nationwide workforce at CCS behind this new brand position?

Pam: We presented It takes a society to our employees in November and it was really well received. I think our staff is excited to embrace this evolution of our brand and make it come to life in their day-to-day work.

Mitchell: To ensure we’re providing our staff with the tools they need to be active ambassadors for our organization and live our brand in our actions and decisions, we’ve done several things, including convening senior leaders for a Brand Summit to talk about how we can maximize the impact of the new brand campaign across different business areas. The marketing and communications team is regularly meeting with internal stakeholders to advise on how to integrate It takes a society into various projects. We’ve developed a toolkit and other resources for staff to reference so that we’re consistent in our communications, both internally and externally.

Anthony Henry, Prostate Cancer Survivor – One of three individuals featured in the “It takes a society” campaign.


FOUNDATION: Last question. Are there any individuals behind the scenes who were instrumental in bringing “It takes a society” to life?

Pam: It wouldn’t be much of an understatement to say that it took a society for this new brand campaign to see the light of day. Certainly, our partners at Juliet were instrumental in developing this idea – Ryan Spelliscy, Kaiti Snell, Laurent Abesdris, Natasa Kajganic deserve a huge shout-out. Media.Monks played a key role in getting our message out to market. At CCS, Mitchell Praw led the charge for the marketing team with contributions from Sarah Connor, Karen Clark, Audrey Caramanico, Jacqueline Lam, Milveen Eke-Allen, Fiona Sohrabi, RD, CAPM, BSc, PMDip, Hiba Al-Dabbagh, Isabelle Girard, Sheila Dong, Maxmillien Rosenberg and all their teams and colleagues. The list goes on. As the idea evolved, we solicited input from leaders across the organization from fundraising, digital engagement, our mission team, our executive and board of directors. It really was a huge team effort.

 For more on “It takes a society” and for information on the Canadian Cancer Society: https://cancer.ca/en/ways-to-give/it-takes-a-society

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