How Diabetes UK got people to sit up and take notice


Diabetes is the fastest growing health crisis of our time. The number of diagnoses has doubled in 20 years. But most people just don’t get it. That’s why Diabetes UK is busy raising the alarm and galvanising people into action. Using hard-hitting messaging and the moving story of amputee Janet. We flagged the staggering scale of the disaster and the personal risks of living with diabetes asking people to fund vital research that could help turn things around.


Diabetes UK was keen to integrate a major fundraising appeal with other marketing activities. Not only was new data released by the charity getting widespread media coverage. But they were also due to run a digitally focused brand campaign about common complications of diabetes. In particular sight loss and amputations.

Our appeal needed to raise awareness of three major problems – rocketing levels of diagnoses, a high risk of complications and a dire lack of research funding. Diabetes UK also wanted to present a timely solution – a panel of leading experts who was meeting up to discuss the direction of research in the future.


Using a personalised combination of direct mail and email, we went big with shocking statistics and grave predictions. We also described our immense hope for the future, thanks to pioneering research.

Central to our appeal was amputee Janet who recently had minor treatment for an ingrown toenail and ended up losing half her leg. Now a campaigner for better diabetes care, she talked candidly about losing a limb and the need for better care, treatment and research.

We needed to grab people’s attention by telling the truth about scale of the crisis and the risks of diabetes. But being honest created a major challenge. The last thing we wanted to do was frighten people who were personally affected by diabetes. We therefore chose statistics carefully, and included details of Diabetes UK’s support services at every opportunity.


The emergency style to this creative worked well and the campaign exceeded its income targets, with the majority of response obtained in week two of the campaign live date.

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