Haydn Grey
Case Study

Northern Cancer Alliance


How direct quotes add warmth to serious subjects

Client: Three Motion for NHS and Northern Cancer Alliance
Sector: Healthcare
Website: https://www.northerncanceralliance.nhs.uk/

Northern Cancer Alliance Logo

How we worked

Script development

The campaign included three different scripts, which needed to be easy to understand, practical, and helpful.

Script one
FIT testing – symptomatic faecal immunochemical testing is used  by GP’s as a first step for patients who present with lower abdominal symptoms to check for the early signs of colon cancer. It tests for blood hidden in the stool.

Script two
Holistic Needs Assessment (HNA) – the HNA is a checklist of questions designed to support people living with a cancer diagnosis. The assessment helps patients to identify any concerns that they may have relating to emotional, physical, practical and financial issues.

Script three
Healthy lifestyle – the film explores the important lifestyle changes people can make to benefit their health and help them feel more able to cope with a cancer diagnosis.

The Challenge

The challenge for this piece of work as a whole was to develop a tone of voice that was warm and friendly, while discussing important and highly sensitive information. It was important to treat this project with a great deal of respect, with close client collaboration, as the advice the films convey can save lives.

Each 90-second script was accompanied by an animation. Part of the challenge as the scriptwriter was to work out what to say, either via the voiceover or on screen, and what to leave for the animation to show – for each short film.

There was a lot of detailed information – especially with the FIT test script – that needed to be explained in precise stages, alongside explicit visual guidance to make sure that people could complete the test to a set timeframe with ease and confidence.

The Response

The three scripts, although part of the same campaign, needed to communicate important information to people with different wants and needs. They had to do this with clarity, warmth – and sensitivity.

The FIT test had to make the subject of faecal testing approachable and manageable, while ensuring the people doing the test felt cared for and understood. This called for a simple, step-by-step approach to writing, with medical professionals on hand to check for procedural clarity and accuracy.

The inclusion of direct quotes from a male patient who’d completed a Holistic Needs Assessment added a layer of warmth and credibility to an animation that explores the role that talking about feelings can play in supporting patient mental health.

The healthy lifestyle script discussed common problems that can be caused by cancer treatment – and offered ways in which people can support their wellbeing while receiving treatment over the short and long-term. It needed to stress the importance of making healthy choices, without being frightening or patronising.

The Results

Neil: Working with Katherine is always a pleasure and super-efficient. This was a tough subject to work on – and so the approach needed to be empathetic, informative and clear. Katherine nailed it – as she always does – with no fuss. Perfect. As a bonus, Katherine was great with the client – kept both parties in the loop, informed and flexible where necessary – which is just what we need as a busy agency.

Neil Wood-Mitchell, Director | Three Motion



Joanne: It was a pleasure to work with Katherine. She absolutely understood the requirements of our patient education films. This understanding included the sensitivities of reaching out to patients with a diagnosis of cancer, detailing clinical information in a way that is accessible to patients and structuring the films so they are appealing and interesting to the watcher. The films are now available to patients across the North East and north Cumbria and are used by secondary and primary health care providers. 

Joanne Mackintosh, Macmillan Engagement and Co Design Project Manager | Northern Cancer Alliance