B2C | Kræftens Bekæmpelse

What’s the Second Biggest Cause of Cancer? Exactly. That’s What Sunrise Helped The Danish Cancer Society Change

Do you know what the second biggest risk factor for cancer is? If not, you’re far from the only one. Given how few people know that being overweight is the second biggest risk factor for cancer, the Danish Cancer Society wanted to create a campaign to bring awareness to the issue. But while awareness is a step in the right direction, real progress comes via actionable solutions. Through a multi-channel campaign, we seized attention with far more than a few healthy recipes.

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Most Danes are familiar with The Danish Cancer Society and its awareness campaigns about smoking and sun-protection. But it was not until recently that the organization started focusing on weight issues.

Being overweight is one of the greatest social and health challenges of our time. In 2017, 51% of Danes were overweight and 17% were obese. If current trends continue, approximately 66% of the adult population will be overweight by 2045. Being overweight increases the risk of 13 different cancers and is actually the second biggest risk factor for cancer in general. But despite the stark numbers, very few are aware of how serious the situation is – which is exactly why action was required.


While the Danish Cancer Society had gathered data illustrating the link between being overweight and cancer, public interest in the findings and issue at-large was still severely lacking.

The Danish Cancer Society therefore wished to develop a SoMe and PR campaign to inform the target group (men and women between 30-65 years) of their findings. The overall goal was to kickstart a dialogue that could eventually lead to behavioral and societal change.

The challenge was twofold. One: Only 5% of the Danes knew about the link between being overweight and cancer when asked independently, illustrating how serious lack of public awareness was. Two: given how sensitive the topic of weight is, communicating the negatives of being overweight had to be done in a careful manner.


After exploring several approaches and conducting various tests with the target group, we found the best angle in exactly what made the task so difficult: no matter what we said about the issue of being overweight, it was going to be an “ufedt budskab” (uncool message).

We developed a 4-phase strategy to convey the message:

Phase 1:
A broad PR campaign was launched to rouse media interested in the Danish Cancer Society’s massive research and data analysis project.

Phase 2:
Once the media had the story, we focused the PR campaign on the causes of being overweight – emphasizing that it isn’t just about the individual, but a complex combination of social, cultural and economic issues as well.

Phase 3:
A brave, relatable and well-known Dane, Anders W. Berthelsen, stood up to show the public that he wasn’t as slim as he once was. His role was to communicate how becoming overweight often occurs gradually and goes unnoticed over the course of several years.

We also ran a social media campaign on Danish Cancer Society’s Facebook page focused on giving users the opportunity to ask questions and find more information about the link between being overweight and cancer.

Phase 4:
Partnerships were established to prevent unhealthy weight gain by increasing the availability of and demand for food and beverages in smaller packages and portions. The goal was to get several of the leading players in Denmark involved.

“Not only have we outperformed the ambitious KPI’s we set for the campaign, but we have – despite the sensitive and difficult topic – also seen a positive shift in attitude towards the Danish Cancer Society as an organization. Before the campaign, we did not dare hope for such great results with our first media campaign about obesity”

Louise Kramer, Senior Project Manager, Danish Cancer Society.


Surpassing all KPIs, the campaign has been extremely effective.

SOME – paid and organic
Impressions: 5.356.751
Shares: 3.596
Likes: 7.730
Comments: 532

SOME – paid
Budget 249.975 kr.
Reach: 1.324.548
ThruPlay: 1.205.694
Price per ThruPlay: 0,21 kr. (KPI 0,80 kr)
78% out of the 1,3 million Danes in the target group watched a minimum of 15 seconds of the movie or watched it to the end – meaning over 1 million Danes were made aware of the link between obesity and cancer.

Opinions about the campaign
80% like the film (KPI 55%) (only 3% think it’s bad or very bad)
54% think the message is relevant for themselves (KPI 30%)
84% think the campaign displayed a relevant message (KPI 54%)
63% think the campaign attracts ones attention (KPI 33%)

Understanding of the overall message
82% think the film shows how being overweight increases the risk of cancer (KPI 60%)
90% think the film shows that obesity is one of the most bigger risk factors for cancer
62% think the campaign provided them with new knowledge
90% think it’s important to have an open discussion about obesity

The effectiveness of the campaign
Unaided awareness:
March 2019: 5%
September 2020: 17%

Aided awareness:
March 2019: 22%
September 2020: 37% (KPI 30%)

PR results
126 press releases

Change of attitude in the industry
In continuation of the campaign, 18 partnerships have been established with the aim of preventing obesity by increasing the availability of and demand for food and beverages in smaller packages and portions. Partner companies include 7-Eleven, McDonald’s, COOP, De Samvirkende Købmænd, and more.

Do you want to hear more?
Contact CCO and Senior Partner
Mikkel Heideby
+45 20 25 30 05 or mhe@sunrise.dk

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