A hair-rais­ing’ mes­sage from the Swedish Child­hood Can­cer Foundation

Exhibited by
April 28, 2016
Medium of Communication
Video, digital poster
Target Audience
Type of Charity
Children, cancer
Country of Origin
Date of first appearance
October 2014

SOFII’s view

Have you ever wanted to steal an idea and use it at your own organisation? Well, here is a masterclass in how to do just that. Take a look at this beautiful, simple campaign by the Swedish Childhood Cancer Foundation (Barncancer Fonden). The idea might have been copied, but we think you'll agree it has been executed perfectly.

This clever campaign was presented during SOFII’s IWITOT session at the International Fundraising Congress in October 2015.

Summary / objectives

In early 2014, a Swedish shampoo company called Apotek ran an interactive video campaign on metro platforms. Displayed on digital poster screens, a model’s hair swayed and swished in the wind every time a train arrived in the station. It was a great idea.

In fact, the idea was so great that the Swedish Childhood Cancer Foundation decided to copy it and make their own version.

The charity created a video using the same ‘hair-raising’ technique as the shampoo ad, but with a bit of a twist. They wanted to capture people’s attention as well as raise awareness and funds for their cause. 

Special characteristics

Instead of showing a model with freshly washed tresses, the charity’s video featured Linn, a beautiful 14 year-old-girl. Just like the original ad her hair swayed in the wind every time a train arrived – but then suddenly all her hair blew off completely. With her wig gone, Linn stared solemnly out of the ad and the strap line above her head said, ‘Every day a child is diagnosed with cancer’.

This was followed by a simple message to text a donation of 50 kronor.  

The video also featured the reactions of those who watched the campaign on the very same metro platforms as the original ad. This combination of honest emotions and the charity’s powerful message made for a compelling video that was ready to go viral. 

Influence / impact

Of course, the Swedish Childhood Cancer Foundation hoped their video would be a massive success. And in just 12 days, the ‘hair-raising’ video garnered 2.1 million views on YouTube.

That was just the tip of the iceberg. Various media outlets showed the video on their own platforms. It was featured on the popular website Mashable and was even covered by The Huffington Post, to name a few. A Dutch TV show used the video on their own broadcast and the charity even had an Iraqi newspaper phoning up asking for more information. The campaign had captured the attention of the world.

Since then, the charity’s campaign has gone on to win two silver Cresta International Advertising Awards, one in the outdoor category and another in the ambient media category.


But from a fundraising perspective, how did it do?

The video had a clear call to action. It asked for just one thing – for those watching to give 50 kronor via SMS text donation.

And even though the Swedish Childhood Cancer Foundation was already a large, well known charity – their clever copying of a brilliant idea meant they were able to increase text message donations by 1,000%.

Perhaps even more importantly, the video was the talk of the town throughout Sweden. It gave the charity a huge amount of visibility. And for an ambitious organisation that was already aiming to triple their fundraising efforts in the next five years – that was exactly what they needed.


In creating this campaign the Swedish Childhood Cancer Foundation took a risk. They copied someone else’s idea. But they did it right. The charity saw a great concept that would fit with their strategy – and made sure their version was delivered in a way that was even better than the original.

And if you are going to steal an idea, that’s precisely how to do it...

Creator / originator

The original interactive video campaign was produced by Swedish shampoo company, Apotek to run on platforms inside metro stations. But the copycat campaign used by the Swedish Childhood Cancer Foundation was developed in collaboration with Stockholm based ad agency, Garbergs.