Can­cer Research UK’s Dryathlon

Exhibited by
Sinéad Chapman
February 02, 2015
Medium of Communication
Target Audience
Type of Charity
Country of Origin
Date of first appearance
January 2013

Summary / objectives

Dryathlon is an event where people are sponsored to give up alcohol for the month of January. They can do it on their own or as part of a team and the majority of the experience is digital. It was created to engage and recruit ABC1 25 to 45 year-old men – a strategic objective for the charity.


The idea for the event and its execution was underpinned by one important insight into the audience insight – that men are willing to support charity as long as it’s low involvement, derives personal benefit and facilitates banter with friends. Piggybacking existing behaviour was also important and statistics suggested 74 per cent of the audience had stopped drinking alcohol before (50 per cent in January).

The event was positioned as a fun way to test your willpower, challenge yourself and each other, feel fitter and save money. The cause was secondary and there was no focus on the correlation between cancer risks and alcohol intake.

Creator / originator

Cancer Research UK/ Killer Creative

Special characteristics

Dryathlon was truly audience-led in tone of voice and a departure from the brand most people recognised – using casual colloquial language like epic and legendary, kicking the sauce and letting loose.

Gamification (the application of typical elements of game playing, e.g. point scoring, competition with others, rules of play, to other areas of activity) and technology were used to create an engaging offer that was cost effective:

  • Linking the website to the JustGiving API to create live leaderboards and drive competition.
  • Using dedicated Facebook and Twitter pages throughout the campaign to entertain and encourage participants.
  • Promoting digital assets like Facebook cover and profile pictures, virtual badges and email footers to reward fundraising efforts and raise awareness in participants’ social networks. 

Influence / impact

In the launch year, the event attracted 35,000 participants and raised £4.5 million. Dryathlon has set the benchmark in the UK for audience-led, mass participation events that live online.


Est. £500,000 expenditure in year 1 (exact figure undisclosed)


35,000 participants

£4.5 million raised 

Featured at SOFII's 'I Wish I'd Thought Of That 2014'

SOFII's IWITOT event 2014