What we do

Abstinence Challenges

These challenges involve giving something up – such as chocolate, alcohol or sugar – for a defined period of time, while getting sponsored to raise money for charity. They’re designed to tap into our vices – giving us the motivation to go cold turkey.

Killer’s Creative Director took a surprise phone call from a commercial travel client we hadn’t heard from in a while. Super-sharp and known for heading up the UK’s no. 1 youth brand at age 25, she’d recently joined Cancer Research UK. “Fancy the opportunity to create a big campaign for us, something totally different, and something unique that nobody else is doing?” Of course, the answer was yes.

We were invited in because other agencies couldn’t quite nail what CRUK were looking for. They were looking to create a first-of-its-kind fundraising product – around giving up alcohol and getting sponsored.

Our campaign idea was inspired by a famous 15 second scene from the film ‘Ice cold in Alex’ starring John Mills & Anthony Quayle. WW2 soldiers enter a bar in the blistering heat in North Africa and order 4 ice-cold lagers. We loved the way John Mills abstains from drinking for 15 seconds… the control, the focus and intensity caught our imagination. We knew this would work for our product, as fundamentally it was about challenge and willpower.

With this confidence behind the idea, we also knew we needed a game-changing name – and so DRYATHLON was created. This product, devised by the clever minds at CRUK with a creative name and campaign by Killer, became groundbreaking. It marked a line in the sand for abstinence products and coined well-known phrase ‘dry January’. We’re incredibly proud to be a part of it.


Abstinence products are big business and can generate £Ms in revenue if produced correctly. The big idea is to encourage supporters to give something up for a fixed period of time. Fundamentally they are challenge-based products and usually involve giving up a vice of some kind; alcohol, chocolate or sugar to name a few… the stuff we all enjoy. Give it up and get sponsored in exchange for donations or sponsorship. Our tried and tested product development blueprint has led to repeat success: From Dryathlon, the 7th most successful fundraising event of all time, to Dechox, which has steadily grown into a £1m product and after 5 years is still driving 20,000 sign ups.

Our scaleable insight-based approach applies to budgets big and small: Whether you’re looking to create a Minimum Viable Product or a full-scale campaign. We carefully manage every step of the process, from proposition development to targeted media buying and optimised sign-up journeys.


Abstinence challenges are a great way to attract new supporters to charities as well re-engage existing and lapsed audiences. They provide an opportunity to push the brand, be playful with creative and entice people who might not originally be motivated by the cause.

In our experience, the most successful products tap into existing behaviour – like giving up booze in January after Christmas excess, or cutting out chocolate in Spring – during lent and post Easter indulgence. The trick is to tap into people’s needs and motivations through the creative and make the event feel collective and fun, creating warmth towards the brand and driving response.


Starting with acquisition through to post-event communications, we plan and map every element of the supporter experience to ensure we’re providing interesting content that taps into the audience’s mindset and encourages action – whether that’s sharing, raising more funds, keeping going or celebrating their achievement. This regular engagement drives fundraising by reminding supporters what’s in it for them, and how their efforts will make a difference.

What our clients say

Clare Moore

Head of Strategic Marketing Communications “The Dryathlon 2013 campaign has gone beyond all our expectations. The tone of voice was spot on and the results are testimony to Killer’s creativity, not to mention their understanding of the core insights of the research document and their memorable interpretation of the brief. It’s a fantastic achievement for a year 0 campaign.”
£4.5m Raised in Year 1 35k Sign ups in Year 1