Reigniting a connection to cause

The United Way exists to strengthen communities by providing support for children, immigrants and vulnerable populations. For over 40 years, Climb the CN Tower had been a signature fundraising event for The United Way, however the event had been experiencing a year over year softening in public participation. The United Way and media marketing firm The Collective hired Aegis to reinvent the aging event brand. From the start, the intention wasn’t simply to refresh the brand, but to establish a new platform for engagement.

United Way

Research

Brand Identity

Brand Communications

Multi-Media Design

Moving the needle
What’s true of most fundraising events is how a relatively small number of influencers have a disproportionate impact on levels of participation and funds raised. Being tasked with improving campaign metrics, it was important for us to understand the audience with the greatest potential to move the needle.

Through interviews and analyzing social media, our researchers were able to compile a target audience persona. The individuals our campaign needed to engage skewed younger, held cosmopolitan values, and embraced an active lifestyle. They were also community-minded, exhibiting a higher degree of social-intelligence and a natural capacity for leadership.

Reconnecting to values
Up was conceived to be a rallying cry for civic philanthropy. Our creative strategy for the new brandname and its marketing campaign was informed by two factors: the values driving the event and the culture of the target audience. 

At its heart, the event’s value proposition is about the power of personal scale. As such, the CN Tower becomes a metaphor in a conversation about scale—the Tower may be among the tallest structures in the world, but a single person can scale it. Likewise, a social problem like poverty may be enormous, but the collective actions of individuals can transform it.

The campaign centres on our protagonist, a person who self-identifies with the target audience. She holds the challenge in her hand, a metaphoric play on the power of personal scale. This imagery paired with its supporting language, speaks to the emotional triggers that prompt social participation and leadership.

Style is a set of cultural signals, so how these ideas are packaged is also important. We deliberately deployed aesthetics to resonate with the young, urban, cosmopolitan, liberal values of our target audience.

Adoption leads to strong results
Strong creative needs strong media marketing strategy. The Collective, the United Way strategic partner who originally hired us, delivered the campaign to audiences through a grassroots media strategy, grounded in social media. While the UP campaign’s first year is considered a pilot, performance metrics have already validated the underlying strategy, revealing strong adoption and community engagement.

+29%

Our new campaign for United Way produced a 29% increase in participation

$1,688m

The increased participation yielded a record fundraising total

+27%

Fundraising results reveal a 27% increase over the previous year with a higher pledge level per participant and a lower attrition rate

+29%

Our new campaign for United Way produced a 29% increase in participation

+27%

Fundraising results reveal a 27% increase over the previous year with a higher pledge level per participant and a lower attrition rate

$1,688m

The increased participation yielded a record fundraising total