The Challenge: No one should have to face cancer alone but, for many patients, that is exactly how they feel. Going through cancer is one of the biggest challenges a person can face, so it is only natural that patients and their families and friends should feel frightened about the road ahead. This is where Macmillan can help. It’s a common misperception that the charity only provides nurses, and we wanted to challenge this view. To do so we showed readers of The Sun – particularly those looking for advice about their own health, or the health of loved ones – exactly how Macmillan can support anyone facing cancer, so they do not feel alone.

The Solution


Deidre Sanders is the nation’s agony aunt. For more than 35 years, Dear Deidre has provided support and advice for scores of The Sun’s more than ten million readers. Covering everything from loneliness and abuse to incest and complicated love triangles, Deidre gives everyone a sympathetic ear, and some well-chosen words of advice. For Sun readers facing cancer, Dear Deidre is one of the first places they turn to.


For Macmillan we created the first ever brand partnership between Deidre and Macmillan. Every week we turned the Dear Deidre column Macmillan green, and featured regular questions from cancer patients among her letters – even taking over her infamous ‘photo casebook’ to share a particularly poignant cancer story. We also featured an ‘Angel of the Week’ – truly supportive people from across the nation, nominated by their friends and family. We also produced regular features with Deidre talking to Macmillan about the varied support they can offer to cancer patients, and produced ‘Lost for Words’: a film about how to talk to people diagnosed with cancer, as told by the patients themselves.

The Results: Top line

  • During the course of an eight-month campaign, our Dear Deidre/Macmillan partnership reached an astonishing 16.2m adults – a third of the UK population – with a frequency of 115.

  • Recall of the campaign was high: 40 per cent (around 6.5m adults) remembered seeing the campaign, and 76 per cent were able to identify the partnership unprompted.

  • The campaign had a significant impact on those affected by or diagnosed with cancer; of those diagnosed, 71 per cent said they had used a Macmillan service during the campaign. Prior to the campaign only 54 per cent said they had used a Macmillan service.

  • We saw more than 130,000 visits to our bespoke content hub for Macmillan on – with an average dwell time of six minutes for 2.5 articles per user. And, as a result, more than 80 per cent of Sun readers said they would recommend Macmillan to anyone they know affected by or diagnosed with cancer.