Breast Cancer Now

A record-breaking campaign for afternoon tea

Author information: Marnie Winter-Burke , Senior Account Manager , Post information: , 3 min read ,
Related post categories: Digital Marketing , PPC ,

Running for over 20 years, Afternoon Tea began as a small community-based fundraiser that has evolved into one of Breast Cancer Now’s most important mass participation events.

In 2023, over 11,000 people registered to support Afternoon Tea and total revenue from paid media surpassed last year by 49%.

Here's the background to our campaign strategy, which was driven by an aim to create a new audience of bakers, hosters and cuppa-tea-makers.

Victoria sponge cake
One of the tasty campaign creatives!

Afternoon Tea started as a small community-based fundraising event and has since developed into one of our most important mass participation events. Despite the many changes Afternoon Tea has gone through over the years, our core vision has remained the same: to raise as much money as possible to support our life-changing support services and world-class research. So that by 2050, everyone who is diagnosed with breast cancer lives and is supported to live well.

Juliet Branfield, Mass Participation Marketing Officer

Our aim for this year’s campaign

For this campaign, we set out to expand our reach beyond the traditionally warm audiences, to futureproof Afternoon Tea as demographics shift and digital behaviours evolve.

Leveraging momentum from the previous year, Breast Cancer Now also invested to expand the reach of this campaign. A highlight was their new microsite, complete with recipes, fundraising tips, and a gallery of user-generated imagery to enhance the sense of community, the driving force behind the campaign’s success.

Afternoon Tea website screenshot
Screenshot of the Afternoon Tea site

Every 10 minutes, someone in the UK hears the words “you have breast cancer”. By taking part in Afternoon Tea, fundraisers can help us be there for them, every step of the way. Whether that’s offering our free and trusted health information, giving someone much-needed reassurance on our Helpline or funding cutting-edge research projects led by the brightest minds in breast cancer research – we’re dedicated to improving the lives of people affected by breast cancer, now and for generations to come.

Juliet Branfield, Mass Participation Marketing Officer

Our approach

With a focus on building new audiences, we tested channels such as Nextdoor and Performance Max, which we have been using for our other clients. These platforms complement existing channels, like Facebook, where we adjusted our audience segmentation to adapt to the changes brought by iOS 14 updates. We also tested younger audiences on Instagram with shorter, snappier ad copy and stand-out creatives.

Creative testing was hugely important for this campaign. We experimented with various messages, including nostalgic themes that highlighted the campaign was celebrating more than 20 years.

"Afternoon Tea is back! Running for over 20 years, don't miss out on this year's favourite fundraiser. Help drive forward our life-saving research and help provide vital support."

We also tested numerous iterations for messaging that encouraged people to pay in their fundraising, a difference from the previous year where we placed more encouragement on people sharing their images. This approach, backed by data from previous years, helped optimise our call to action and encouraged timely pay-ins.

Afternoon Tea ad examples
Screenshots showing ad creatives and messaging


This was our sixth year of working with Breast Cancer Now and we loved being able to support them with Afternoon Tea and help to smash all of their targets.

  • Our strategy for the 2023 campaign raised the most amount of money to date, beating the previous year’s total by 49%. Our aim for this campaign was to generate 6,500 signups, we achieved 8,111, with a total of 11,379 registrants across all channels.
  • Facebook was still the best-performing channel, a trend we’re used to seeing, but Performance Max also proved to be a huge success—a great result for a newly introduced channel.
  • Once again, the top-performing creative was the scone. We also saw a high CTR from UGC-led content which contributes to the community feel of Afternoon Tea.

We’re absolutely delighted with how Afternoon Tea has performed in 2023. We’re especially thrilled to have exceeded our target, making this year’s campaign our biggest yet. Through testing new strategies and platforms, we’ve been able to reach and engage new audiences, which is essential for achieving our long-term goals.

Juliet Branfield, Mass Participation Marketing Officer
Author information: Marnie Winter-Burke , Senior Account Manager , Post information: , 3 min read ,
Related post categories: Digital Marketing , PPC ,