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Charity convinces brands to add bowel cancer symptoms to toilet paper packaging

Despite being the UK's fourth most common cancer, almost half of the country's adults can't name a single symptom. Aiming to raise awareness and increase early detection, Bowel Cancer UK launched a new campaign in May 2022: #GetOnARoll. The goal is simple: convince brands to add common bowel cancer symptoms to toilet paper packaging.

The campaign was co-launched with Marks & Spencer. Updated packaging of the retailer's private label loo rolls will be stocked in stores starting September, with an accompanying QR code that leads customers to for more information. The store's restrooms, meanwhile, will soon feature signage detailing which symptoms to look out for. 

And #GetOnARoll is definitely on a roll: last week, Aldi, Morrisons, Waitrose, Asda and Kimberly-Clark's Andrex all committed to adding potentially life-saving bowel cancer information to their packaging, too.

List of bowel cancer symptoms


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The seed for #GetOnARoll was planted by Marks & Spencer employee Cara Hoofe, who was diagnosed with stage 4 bowel cancer at the age of 32. Hoofe submitted the idea through the retailer's 'Straight to Stuart' scheme, which allows employees to send suggestions directly to new CEO Stuart Machin.

What's remarkable is how fast M&S acted: Cara Hoofe submitted her idea in mid-May, and Bowel Cancer UK and M&S announced their collaboration a week later. Since five other brands joined in within a month, speed must be contagious.

Packaging can be a powerful, low-cost platform. Which message can your brand add that could improve or even save the lives of your customers? For more examples of organizations tapping into their staff's talents, passions and creativity, check out our free IN-FLUENCERS trend briefing.