Holland Bloorview Kids Rehab reclaims the ‘lemon’

Baking Good campaign challenges public's perceptions of child disabilities

Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital is aiming to change disability stereotypes “one taste bud at a time,” in a campaign that shows kids with disabilities making lemon squares out of lemons.

The “Baking Good” campaign, created pro bono by Havas Worldwide Canada, sets out to reclaim the lemon as a symbol for kids with disabilities to challenge public perceptions and stigmas about them.

It includes a pop-up lemon cart in downtown Toronto this week in which free lemon squares are being distributed, TV and radio spots, digital screens, online and print.


It’s the largest campaign the hospital has ever launched, says Sandra Hawken, president and CEO of Holland Bloorview Foundation. The campaign runs for the rest of the month.

Despite being the largest children’s rehabilitation hospital in the country and a world leader in treating disabilities, Holland Bloorview “is one of the best-kept secrets in Toronto and in Canada,” she says.

The hospital is not located in Toronto’s “Hospital Alley” and has changed names over the years “so a lot of people don’t know about us.”

Hawken says previous brand-building campaigns have taken the typical approach of many children’s hospitals, with images of adorable but really ill kids, powerful headlines and emotive music.” But they “didn’t do the job we needed to break through and get people thinking about childhood disability.”

While the children experience an atmosphere of inclusion and acceptance within hospital walls, they and their families often face bullying and pity in the community, Hawken says. “We really wanted a campaign that would challenge some of the stigmas of childhood disability and create a conversation.”

Havas Worldwide Canada CEO and chief creative officer Helen Pak says the campaign’s insight emerged from conversations Havas had with kids at the hospital and their families about how Holland Bloorview is a fun and optimistic place.

It sets out to reclaim the pejorative world lemon from the timeworn phrase “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.”

Rather than focus on what kids can’t do, the campaign focuses on what they can do, Hawken says. “They’re not lemons. They’re amazing children that are capable of so many things.”

The campaign uses child-like illustrations and images to bring to life the kids of Holland Bloorview.

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“Some people say life can be lemons and they’re right, but not how they think,” says a girl narrating the 30-second spot. “I’m bright, bold and fun. I go to Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital where they see possibilities in anyone.”

The campaign is supported by donated media from Rogers Media, Corus Entertainment, Adapt Media, NewAd, Clear Channel and an online ad buy from Aber Group.

The lemon cart, painted in yellow and with the line “Giving you a taste of what we can do,” is popping up downtown from Sept. 12 to16, at locations that include Bay and Adelaide and the CBC Atrium.

It’s being managed by kids who are patients at the hospital, parents, kids, staff and volunteers, some of whom were former clients of the hospital.

About 1,500 lemon squares provided by Liaison Culinary College will be given away during the week.

The campaign is also part of the hospital’s annual $10 million fundraising effort and donations are being accepted at the lemon cart and online.

Children at Holland Bloorview helped paint the cart and baked some lemon squares. Behind the scenes videos showing their work can be seen at BakingGood.ca.

The Baking Good campaign was supported by partners Polyester Studio: Art & Motion Design; Keen Music, Voice & Interactive; and Vancouver illustrator Carson Ting of Chairman Ting Industries.

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