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Case study: Ovarian Cancer Action (OCA)

Making women aware of and on the lookout for symptoms of ovarian cancer

Published: 13 Jan 2020

Ovarian Cancer Action

Client: N/A

Agency: Ovarian Cancer Action (OCA)

Campaign: Ovarian Cancer Action (OCA)

Timescale: N/A

A quick look

Ovarian Cancer Action acknowledged there has been little change in symptom awareness among women over the last decade, so it went back to the drawing board.

The World Ovarian Cancer Day White Rose Campaign is a great example of how a small charity can make a big change if it focuses on innovation and isn’t afraid to change tack.

The campaign last year was so successful the charity is looking to make this a repeatable and annual event, to be scaled up year-on-year until every women knows the symptoms of ovarian cancer.


Ovarian cancer is the sixth most common cancer for women in UK, yet nine out of every ten women do not know the four main symptoms of the disease. Early diagnosis is vital; women diagnosed at stage 1 have a 90% chance of survival, which drops dramatically to just 4% at stage 4.

While there is no screening tool for the disease and no Government awareness campaign, spreading symptom awareness is how we can arm women with the best chance of survival. Previous efforts had not made a significant difference in the number of women who are aware of and on the lookout for symptoms.


Ovarian Cancer Action came up with a low-cost, high-impact way of reaching a new, younger demographic on digital channels as well as on the streets that delivered tangible results. With a goal to drive web traffic to the charity’s symptoms page, the campaign strategy had a digital focus. The charity and its volunteers took to the streets of London, Cardiff and Edinburgh to hand out 7,400 white roses, one for every woman diagnosed with ovarian cancer each year in the UK.

Every rose had a tag with the symptoms of ovarian cancer, Ovarian Cancer Action’s url and #WOCD. The roses were a beautiful symbol to share with the public and in exchange, created an opportunity for people to create organic content to help spread awareness. To help the campaign extend its reach, campaign partner Bloom & Wild sent a bouquet of white roses to 16 influencers, including TV doctors, as part of the multifaceted campaign.


On World Ovarian Cancer Day 2018, Ovarian Cancer Action’s CEO Cary Wakefield kicked-off the campaign being interviewed on BBC Breakfast. Volunteers began handing out roses at train stations in the early morning rush hour and people starting posting about their roses immediately.

By sending digital influencers such as ITV’s Dr Sara Kayat and Cat Meffan their roses ahead of time, creators were able to develop organic and engaging posts that went live from 9am. The chosen influencers had a combined following of over 1.1 million. #WOCD posts were liked 10,389 times and insta- stories were viewed 44,267 times.

The charity had received a 65.5% increase on the monthly average of visits to the symptoms page. #WOCD was trending on Twitter in London and Cardiff and the charity gained new followers across all its social media platforms. The charity achieved 18 pieces of coverage across all four nations, including a heartfelt piece in the Huffington Post from a volunteer on why she was handing out roses on World Ovarian Cancer Day.

The charity also lobbied politicians across the UK to support World Ovarian Cancer Day. Former Prime Minister Theresa May joined many colleagues in wearing a white rose during Prime Minister’s questions, prompting a second wave in social media and press activity.

Client verdict

“We are so grateful to our wonderful supporters who are helping us raise awareness this World Ovarian Cancer Day. Ovarian cancer kills more women in the UK than the other gynaecological cancers combined. We currently rely on symptom recognition to catch the disease early, which is why better awareness is vital if we are to see survival rates improve.” Cary Wakefield, Chief Executive, Ovarian Cancer Action

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