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4th July 2018

Turning instinct into action: Aspire Channel Swim Case Study.

We put a great amount of effort into ensuring our communication is effective. In everything we do; from the initial presentation of our ideas to a client during a pitch, to the execution of our campaigns and everything in-between, influencing human behaviour is at the top of our list. We want to show you an example of how we've applied our Instinct in Action approach to one of our biggest annual projects and how we’ve accomplished the final creative result.

This year is Big Cat’s third year of working with national UK charity, Aspire. Aspire help over 40,000 people in the UK who have been paralysed by spinal cord injury, to regain independence and each year the charity hosts one of the UK’s largest fundraiser swims; The Aspire Channel Swim. Over the past three years, we’ve worked with Aspire to create and execute the swim’s marketing communications campaign, with the aim of recruiting as many members of the British public as possible in order to raise vital funds for those affected by spinal cord injury.

Each year we’ve worked with Aspire we’ve exceeded both fundraising and participation targets and we’re confident that this year will be no different, with a target of recruiting 7,000 people for the swim. The key to this continued success is our ability to evolve the campaign from continued learning derived from previous campaign insights.

In 2017, we identified from past participants that the single most important reason for taking part in the Aspire Channel Swim was the accessibility of the fundraiser – the ability to take part in your own pool, your own way that fits perfectly into your own lifestyle. Furthermore, research with our target audience showed us that ‘having a motivation’ was a major factor in deciding to take part in a fundraising activity. Bolstered by our primary research, was marketplace insights which showcased that ‘keeping it real’ was the trend to aim for, following suit of Sport England and This Girl Can campaign which contributed to 2.8 million women becoming more active. This was a prime bit of insight to us, perfectly mirroring what the Aspire Channel Swim is all about and what we want to achieve: encouraging ordinary people to do something extraordinary. This vision, along with the statistic that there are 2.5 million weekly swimmers in the UK wanting to celebrate swimming and to encourage participation in the sport, is what has powered this year’s campaign.

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Behavioural research has told us that making a public statement improves the likelihood of cementing new attitudes and habits so we wanted to harness this power by encouraging online and offline conversations about swimming and disabilities. We also took inspiration from the ‘We’re all Superhumans’ campaign where 59% of viewers positively changed their perceptions of those with disabilities. This stood out to us as we wanted to clearly communicate that swimming, especially the Aspire Channel Swim, is inclusive. This, coupled with the fact that the hashtag #Swimming has 2.5 million weekly posts in the UK, with people wanting to celebrate swimming, its benefits and also encouraging more people to take part in the sport, gave us the final push we needed for this year’s campaign theme.

For the Aspire Channel Swim creative, we wanted to create something that moved and inspired people, resonating with our target audience and prompting them to take action. Our creative saw heroism meet real people with real stories. Our aim was to create stunning visuals that would encourage conversation with compelling and down to earth entertaining creative whilst shifting the perception that sports’ challenges are exclusively for the super fit and lean, by showcasing all ages, cultures, shapes and sizes. We wanted to present all the participants as champions whilst sharing the message that anyone can complete the Aspire Channel Swim but that it would still be a grand achievement to do so.

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This year we able to execute this in a fun and creative way through our photography and video shoots which captured normal, everyday people as heroes in a dramatic way that was underpinned with humour and warmth. We used Aspire Channel Swim participants, who were shot with theatrical lighting.

The online user experience was also integral to this year’s campaign and has seen us implement more personalisation into the registration process and ongoing challenge touch points. We’re creating a challenge name generator which gives each participant a fun, swimming-related name and badge. In addition, we developed more shareable assets such as collectable distance badges which are rewarded when participants reach certain milestones as well as offering other incentives to spur challengers on and increase momentum.

Next stage of the campaign for us is implementing the creative roll out and delivering an ongoing press office to drive traffic to the website, build awareness amongst potential participants and help inspire people to motivate action. As we see our creative go live across the country from adverts in Birmingham’s Grand Central Station to featuring in national press ads, our message is loud and clear: Britain, discover your own inner champion whilst helping to change the lives of those with spinal cord injury.

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