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Jeans for Genes is one of Australia’s iconic event brands. To celebrate the event’s 25th year in the market, the team at Children’s Medical Research Institute (CMRI) wanted to make an impact. They put the brief out to pitch and March One was invited.

Jeans for Genes is one of Australia’s iconic event brands. To celebrate the event’s 25th year in the market, the team at Children’s Medical Research Institute (CMRI) wanted to make an impact. They put the brief out to pitch and March One was invited.

After six months of chemo, Linke, who had leukemia, was given no hope of survival. Her mother Rene sent 130 emails to doctors around the world. She was soon on
a plane bound for Australia and a clinical trial. Within
a month she was in remission. That was three years ago.

As a specialist in brand campaigns for the charity sector our approach to this brief was markedly different to that of the other agencies. We create what we call ‘campaigns of purpose’, which are the result of a tailored creative process that we follow. Campaigns of purpose are different to most campaigns in that they are emotionally complex, authentic stories and have a clear and driving call to action.

The main strategy driving the Fight with Me, Fight for Me campaign was that children are no longer seen as completely innocent or helpless as they were when Jeans for Genes started. These days we see children as strong and resilient and creative. Children can be music stars, business leaders, inventors and inspirational speakers.

Our idea was to showcase the strength these children have and use it to inspire people to register for Jeans for Genes. This idea gave us the emotional complexity we were looking for – the viewer feels protective of the children because they have a genetic disease, but also they feel proud of them and inspired by them.

The script was written to give a name and a face to highly prevalent genetic diseases. Each child mentions their genetic disease and then a superpower they have. This is to remind parents of their children, who no doubt also pretend to be a lion or a princess or something wondrous.

The children are standing in deliberately strong and defiant poses. Body language is a major part of communication. We worked hard to get the right form for each photo and each moment of the TVC. The tone of voice is

the same. We chose versions of the script that communicated the right amount of attitude.

This direction was very much appreciated by the parents of the children. They liked the idea of celebrating their children’s strengths. This made it easier to get them on board initially and continue to support the campaign as it rolled out nationally.

Quinn is just six years old and restricted to a wheelchair due to Mucolipidosis. His mum Sasha explains that the campaign is giving him back some power: “Our children don’t always have a voice to speak up for themselves, and when you have a campaign that’s behind them saying, ‘We’re a community that can get behind kids who can’t speak for themselves and help them in any way we can’, it’s comforting”.

Henry is a six-year-old with LCHAD deficiency and his mum Jessica explains why she was happy for him to be involved:  “I really like the message it’s conveying because I think kids are very resilient, and one thing Henry has shown me is that no matter all the things he goes through in life, he keeps on going.  I really wanted to see that message shared.

It’s here that I must say that working with the team at CMRI is fantastic. In many ways it’s like working with a group of friends. We respect each other enough to have our say and move on together with decisions made. It wasn’t uncommon for me to call up and ask a question or discuss a creative decision or even play a script down the phone.

Underlying every discussion is an absolute respect for each other’s talents, expertise and brilliance. We are on each other’s side. We encourage each other to be our best.

Also we laugh at every meeting. That’s a good sign, I think. And I believe that this helped the success of the campaign no end.

Ben Coverdale

Ben is the Creative Director of March One, an agency that creates campaigns of purpose for the not-for-profit sector.

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