Prostate Can­cer Research Fund: fundrais­ing from beyond the grave

Exhibited by
Emma Halls, chief executive, Prostate Cancer Research Foundation.
July 23, 2009
Medium of Communication
Broadcast and television, press advertising
Target Audience
Type of Charity
Country of Origin
Date of first appearance
June, 2007

SOFII’s view

How often do you hear a phrase like this in fundraising – ‘to do this, we brought Bob Monkhouse back from the dead to front a campaign for the disease that killed him’?

Not often, for sure. This is innovative fundraising, no doubt.

Celebrity endorsement in fundraising is very important and it’s often hard to find the right celebrity, a truly top star who is prepared to give his or her all to endorse the cause. Bob Monkhouse was a hugely famous celebrity in the UK for half a century. His comic genius put him at the top of his profession through scriptwriting, film, radio and television appearances plus hosting popular TV shows such as The Golden Shot and Bob’s Full House. This exhibit spotlights his final appearance, or so it seems, for the Prostate Cancer Research Fund. It’s hard to imagine any celebrity going further for a cause than this. But the funny thing is, as jokes go, it is a bit of a killer.

Creator / originator

The Communications Agency.

Summary / objectives

To raise awareness of prostate cancer, the need for more research and the Prostate Cancer Research Foundation.


Men in the UK don’t talk about health issues. Nor do they appreciate how common prostate cancer is and that it’s killing men in the UK at the rate of one every hour. So we created a campaign that firmly put both the disease and the PCRF, which funds independent research into its causes and treatments, on the national agenda. To do this, we brought Bob Monkhouse back from the dead to front a campaign for the disease that killed him. Bob spoke humorously from beyond the grave to deliver an important message – ‘give a few bob’.

Special characteristics

Posthumous use of Bob Monkhouse, who died from prostate cancer in 2003.

Influence / impact

We estimate the campaign was seen by over 80 per cent of the UK population. It has raised significant sums and the database of PCRF has grown by over 200 per cent since the campaign started. It is now also up for several global marketing awards.




Over £3 million of advertising space donated.


This is a completely innovative idea. It generated a huge quantity not only of column inches (press coverage) but also of free television advertising.

From a Wikipedia page on Bob Monkhouse:

Posthumous advertisement
‘On 12 June 2007, Monkhouse appeared posthumously on a British TV advert promoting awareness of prostate cancer for male cancer awareness week. Monkhouse was seen in a graveyard next to his own gravestone talking about the disease seriously, combined with a humorous side to the advert that included trademark one-liners, like "What killed me kills one man per hour in Britain. That's even more than my wife's cooking". He ended by saying "As a comedian, I've died many deaths. Prostate cancer, I don't recommend. I'd have paid good money to stay out of here. What's it worth to you?" before walking away from his grave and disappearing. The advert was created by computer technology by using archived material of Monkhouse combined with a body-double looking at the grave and walking around the graveyard, and an actor who imitated his voice. The advert was made with the support of Monkhouse’s family and supported by poster campaigns.’

The TV spot

SOFII’s I Wish I’d Thought Of That 2012 – Alison McCants presents Prostate Cancer Research Fund.