Monthly Archives: February 2014

Today FM, The Irish Cancer Society & ‘Shave or Dye’

We start our analysis of CSR and Charitable Marketing in Ireland with a look at one of the most successful company-charity partnerships of recent years: the ‘Shave or Dye’ collaboration between the Today FM and the Irish Cancer Society.

Darcy & Dempsey - Shave or Dye - Today FM

Now in its 5th year, Shave or Dye is Today FM’s annual charity campaign in support of the Irish Cancer Society. The campaign concept is that Today FM listeners ask their friends and family for sponsorship. In return for donations, these listeners then agree to dye or shave their hair as a gesture of solidarity and support to those who have undergone cancer treatment. All proceeds from the campaign then go directly to funding the research, patient care and education carried out by The Irish Cancer Society – Ireland’s national cancer charity and the largest voluntary funder of cancer research in the country.

The Social Impact of Shave or Dye

Shave or Dye has been tremendously successful in terms of fundraising:  over €250,000 has already been raised during the 2014 campaign, and an overall total of €6.35 million has been raised for the Irish Cancer Society since the campaign’s inception in 2010.

The initial launch of this year’s campaign culminated last Friday at the Mansion House in Dublin, when Today FM broke the Guinness world record for the most heads shaved simultaneously. This is the 5th consecutive year they have broken a world record – last year they shattered the record for the most Mohicans gathered in one public place – and earlier iterations of Shave or Dye have seen Senator David Norris shave off his beard and the Republic of Ireland football squad dye their hair green in aid of the cause.

Today FM Shave or Dye Mansion House Event 21-02-14
Today FM Shave or Dye Mansion House Event 21-02-14

Shave or Dye’s Digital Strategy

Today FM’s digital channels make campaign donation and participation very simple. The station website urges Shave or Dye participants to create fundraising events in “workplaces, schools, pubs and clubs all over Ireland”. The site has an excellent section called “Get Involved” outlining details on how people can participate in the campaign. It includes tips on how people can set up their own fundraising page on, how to host a fundraising event, and details on how to get a sponsorship pack (containing cards, t-shirts and posters) to bolster their fundraising.

The Today FM Shave or Dye site also links to the Irish Cancer Society website – specifically the sections which give a detailed breakdown of where all donations are going and a further link to the charity’s most recent annual reports. Such openness and transparency is particularly welcome given the recent funding scandals at Rehab and the Central Remedial Clinic, and it is possible that far more Irish charities will need to take this approach of disclosing their financial affairs online if they are to regain public trust.

Shave or Dye is supported by a major outdoor and above-the-line advertising spend, and it represents Today FM’s biggest annual marketing campaign. The 2014 advertising campaign for Shave or Dye (developed by the Irish creative agency, Chemistry) is based around the idea of “Headhunters”. Supporting this concept, all outdoor and social advertising show the newly-shaved or dyed heads of their DJs, mounted on a wall like trophies, over the tagline “We’ve got cancer in our sights”.

Heads Wanted Jpg - Shave or Dye

The campaign has a stand-alone Facebook page (which currently has 13,200 likes compared to the 130k likes of the official station page). The Shave or Dye Facebook page has made excellent use of user-generated content where images and videos from fundraisers all over Ireland have been posted alongside clips of celebrity participants like Bressie and Ray Darcy. The campaign hashtag – #shaveordye – has also been one of the most consistently trending topics on twitter in Ireland during February.

Perhaps surprisingly, the campaign doesn’t make much use of Pinterest. The highly visual nature of that platform might have presented a perfect opportunity for user-generated content (i.e. for members of the public to post their own photos of their newly-shaved heads), but there is little on Pinterest relating to the 2014 campaign.
There is also a prominent banner ad – showing the various station DJs with shaved heads or dyed hair – on the Today FM mobile app. When a user clicks through on this ad, however, the landing page does not go directly to the Shave or Dye section of the parent site (something that Today FM’s developers need to correct in order to make the campaign more accessible from mobile).

Shave or Dye as successful CSR

Shave or Dye is one of the most successful CSR projects currently running in Ireland, as evidenced by Today FM winning the Corporate Social Responsibility prize for the campaign at the 2013 All Ireland Marketing Awards. The strength of Shave or Dye is that it is a fundraising campaign that seeks to engage listeners and request their involvement, rather than merely demand donations from them. It is a CSR programme that does not resort to being preachy or hectoring, maintains a strong visual image, and contains a dose of humour while still addressing an issue that affects 1 in 3 people in Ireland.

Individual donations of €2 can be made by texting SHAVE to 50300, and there is still plenty of time to do your own ‘shave or dye’ (donations for the 2014 campaign are accepted up until September and you can register here). The Irish Cancer Society’s National Cancer Helpline can be contacted at Freefone 1800 200 700.