The Drum Awards Festival - Extended Deadline

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By The Drum, Editorial

June 13, 2024 | 7 min read

Taking Social Purpose Gold at The Drum Awards for Marketing EMEA 2024 is Paddy Power’s THE BIG 180. Here is the award-winning case study.

The Strategy

The strategy was simple, but the support potential was mammoth, with half the population targeted to check themselves and the other half targeted to persuade them. Research shows one in eight UK men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer – 143 every day. The good news is it’s curable if caught early, and that was the message we wanted heard loud and clear.

We set big goals because a cause like this needs the centre stage:

  • Mass awareness of prostate cancer & its signs & symptoms
  • 1,000 x 180s hit so we could make a £1m donation!
  • 100,000 men checking their risk on the PCUK risk checker
  • Drive Paddy Power's brand association with darts
  • Help save lives with PCUK


On November 27, we announced our plan to turn the Treble 20 bed on the championship’s official dartboard from its traditional red to our favorite green. In true Paddy style, we had an ulterior motive. Grabbing the headlines meant we could use the outrage we caused among players and fans alike for a crucially important announcement four days later… one people would pay attention to. Our public promise was to donate £1,000 to PCUK for each 180 scored during the WDC. In 2022, 901 180s were thrown and to make our pledge even more exciting, we put down a cool £1m on the oche and challenged the PDC’s players to achieve an all-time high of 1000.

“The Big 180” campaign was at the heart of our plans, with all PR, media coverage, and advertising used to raise crucial awareness of prostate cancer across the UK. It was launched by 1993/94 winner Dennis ‘The Menace’ Priestley, who himself had a diagnosis and underwent treatment. He was joined by World Champion Peter ‘Snakebite’ Wright, who in solidarity wears PCUK’s ‘Man of Men’ badge on his collar in every tournament.

To get men to take notice of our CTA, we knew humour was essential. We know this audience and we know the stigma – they really don’t like talking (or thinking) about prostate problems. Our main slogan was loud and proud - “John from Legal said we couldn’t talk about fingers and bums…” Another slogan – “It’s time for prostate cancer to checkout” – was built around a pun on the darts’ term used for getting down to zero from 501.

We weren’t shy about slapping these messages all over our UK retail estate, with 68 full-vinyl front window takeovers. Posters were put up on the walls of 300+ shops too, headlined “Free Prostate Checks Here! It’s not what you think…” with a QR code printed on to scan with a smartphone. This took people directly to PCUK’s website risk checker. PCUK risk checker branding and our CTA was also broadcast on PPTV in shops.

Our powerful messages were also emailed directly to the inboxes of 1.2m punters, appeared across all of Paddy Power's and PCUK's own channels and even splashed on an impactful wraparound in Metro UK. Our own organic social efforts also created buckets of WDC build-up buzz, with the campaign continuing to push awareness throughout the event’s 16 days. Our Instagram Stories shared a daily “The Big 180” totalizer and continually prompted men to check the risk checker. We also festooned Ally Pally with our QR code posters and risk checker messaging. After every 180, references to PCUK appeared on venue screens.

Press releases were sent to UK media & influential faces about the partnership – including Stephen Fry, a darts fan and former prostate cancer sufferer. Key faces like Fry's helped push the message further through their followings by bringing a more personal side to the campaign & further boosted awareness of UK’s most common male cancer. Our PR pushes landed us spots on key daytime TV such as BBC Breakfast & Sky Sports – this is no easy feat for the industry we are in.


Our aim to raise awareness of prostate cancer was truly embedded in every part of one of this year's sporting events and the results spoke for themselves. Tying “The Big 180” campaign for Prostate Cancer UK to our WDC sponsorship and its PR proved life-changing for so many. It was the most important campaign we’ve ever done and gained five times more media coverage across print, online, broadcast, radio, and social than any PP campaign ever.

Our Paddy promise meant ONE MILLION POUNDS would bolster PCUK’s critical work after 914 scintillating 180s were scored (let’s not mention those other 86 poor throws). Post-campaign analysis by Focal Data showed 1 in 5 UK adults was aware of the campaign, with 31% stating their awareness was driven directly via PR.

Brand tracking also found 30% of respondents had ‘definitely heard of’ or ‘probably heard of’ a partnership between Prostate Cancer UK and Paddy Power – the same awareness as Stonewall’s Premier League Rainbow Laces. This campaign sent 136,000 men to use the 30-second checker during the campaign was a five-fold YoY increase for PCUK.

Crucially, 71% of these men found they were at a ‘high-risk’ of developing the disease and got directed to contact their GP; 22k confirmed they would. Winning the World Darts Championship proved extra special for this year’s Champion Luke Humphries as he also walked away with a new Ballon d'Art trophy, we’d commissioned for the player who hit the most 180s – the campaign even motivated him to donate a portion of his winnings to PCUK poignant given his father-in-law has a prostate cancer diagnosis.

On top of that:

  • 136K men checked their PC risk.
  • £1M donated, the biggest ever sports charity donation.
  • 5X more earned media coverage than any PP campaign.
  • 35% increase in brand trust.
  • £35K in knock-on grassroots fundraising from darts fans.

Commercially this was a huge winner for Paddy Power – we saw numbers skyrocket across KPIs. Additionally, £5k extra for PCUK was raised by punters at the Ally Pally PP Fan Village over the festival. We got 140 direct emails from darts fans globally praising our campaign. PM Rishi Sunak loved the campaign… honestly, he told us! “Paddy Power’s ‘Big 180’ campaign has now chalked up an impressive £1 million for Prostate Cancer UK and has helped to save lives by raising awareness of the need to get checked out. I am proud to support the campaign which will help researchers develop better treatments and tests to detect the UK’s most common male cancer earlier.” - Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, and CEO of PCUK, Laura Kerby, hailed Paddy’s “unique ability to reach and resonate with our target audience in a way our brand does not.”

The WDC is over for another year, but our campaign is not… darts fans inspired by the campaign have pledged £30k+ in fundraising so far with more grassroots activity planned throughout the year. What else can we say, only have you or a loved one checked that risk?

Ready to get your work recognized on a global stage? Enter The Drum Awards today. Need more inspiration, read our Award Winning Case Studies.

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