Over 500,000 people in the UK are living with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), a chronic condition that causes abdominal pain, diarrhoea, and fatigue. People suffering from IBD often live with constant anxiety about needing a toilet, keeping them indoors and forcing them into isolation.

So when the Catherine McEwan Foundation approached us to help them shine a light on the daily struggles of living with IBD, we knew we couldn’t do the same old shit. We needed to cut through the noise and roll out something completely unexpected.

Rolling out a world-first

The idea centred around getting IBD out in the open—quite literally. We created a poster with the world’s first QR code made entirely from toilet rolls. This massive OOH QR code led to a powerful short film showing what it’s really like to live with the uncomfortable and isolating realities of IBD. In other words, we used Out-of-Home as a portal to people stuck In-Their-Homes.

We chose to reveal our special build the weekend of World IBD Day, with teasers running across social media leading up to the big day. The campaign quickly gained traction. Then, being in Glasgow and all, we opted to have our own billboard defaced by renowned street artist, Conzo Throb, with a very Glasgow message –

photo of an OOH banner with 'whats this shit?' spray painted on it

To support the OOH, we launched a social media and PR campaign, ensuring the message reached far and wide. The campaign also featured some familiar faces, including football legend Alex McLeish OBE and musician Rick Parfitt Jr, alongside real people sharing their own personal stories, whose raw honesty brought a human element to the campaign.

Tackling such a sensitive subject as IBD was a real challenge, but we wanted to tackle the cold, hard facts of how it feels to live with IBD head-on. So, we took the ultimate symbol of going to the toilet – the loo roll, and then called out how “sh*t” it is living with IBD in a very direct way, both in the script and through the medium of the graffiti. Building on that, we then hid our film stars behind the QR code, essentially putting them indoors — a metaphor for how it can feel living with IBD. Isolated from society.

Using outdoor for what’s an indoor issue felt like a great way to shine a light on this topic, and then we supported it with a robust social strategy and PR campaign.

Our Creative Director, Jamie Axford

And that’s exactly what we did. We used outdoor media to draw attention to the indoor struggles of those living with IBD. And the result? A campaign that not only raised awareness for the Catherine McEwan Foundation but also inspired empathy and understanding for those living with IBD.

image showing three phones with articles about the campaign

Read more:


The Drum

Campaign US

Famous Campaigns

Want to see how we put it all together? Take a peek behind the scenes:

photo of a white billboard with a QR code made of toilet roll in the middle of it
photo of Conzo Throb tagging the OOH banner
photo of Conzo Throb tagging the OOH banner
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