The Media Store’s Jacquie Alley & Sam Cousins Take The Plunge With Pro-Bono Work For Cure Cancer

The Media Store’s Jacquie Alley & Sam Cousins Take The Plunge With Pro-Bono Work For Cure Cancer

The Media Store team, including chief operating and strategy officers Jacquie Alley and Sam Cousins, have been engaged in sponsored swims for its pro-bono client Cure Cancer over the last month.

Lead image L-R: Sam Cousins, chief strategy officer; Jacquie Alley, chief operating officer, The Media Store.

Now, with just three days left in the team’s sponsored swim in March, B&T sat down with Alley and Cousins to learn more about their efforts.

How far have you both swum and how can we donate?

Jacquie Alley: I’ve now completed my goal of swimming 10km. Whilst that doesn’t seem far, it’s been a few years since I was in the pool swimming laps and on the days when I couldn’t get to the local 50m pool, 66 laps in my backyard pool equated to 500m which was my average daily swim. I’ve enjoyed it so much (apart from the damage to my hair), that I plan to incorporate swimming into my routine when I can.

Sam Cousins: Being a single mum with young kids, I set my distance target pretty low as I thought it would be hard to get to the pool. But I involved the kids and I built up my distance in a freshwater lake in Tweed Heads whilst we were on holiday, at the Brighton sea baths whilst the kids jumped off the boardwalk, as well as my local pool. I’ve managed about 3.5km which is more than I thought I would get to. I really had to face my fear of dark water and swimming with fish in that lake out to the platform. It reminded me of every 80s Horror movie I’ve seen!

There is still time to donate, in fact, it would be amazing if the industry could get behind us and propel our team to the number one spot, which would mean surpassing the ‘Cure Cancer lappers’ led by the formidable Helen Rubin who was the brainchild behind this swimming fundraiser.

You can donate here.

B&T: Can you explain the pro-bono work The Media Store does with Cure Cancer?

JA: The Media Store has always had a philanthropic heart, embedded by our founder Warren Hill, to use not only our skills for the greater good but to give back a proportion of our profits to the community. It’s not something we ever talked about publicly, we’ve always believed giving privately is the best way to give.

In fact, it wasn’t until a decade ago that we disclosed to our team the connection with Noonaweena, the family social enterprise that was primarily funded by TMS. This venue in the Central Coast hinterland provides a safe space for many NFPs such as Homicide Victims Support Groups, LinkUp NSW and Foster Care Angels amongst others. Seeing the sparks ignite for the team, knowing their media work for corporates was also having a significant benefit for so many in need, was powerful.

This spirit of generosity and desire to give back remains embedded in the agency today. As soon as the TMS team grew, creating capacity, Stephen and I aligned on partnering with a charity. We were introduced to Cure Cancer and were immediately attracted to their unique proposition to support early-career cancer researchers with no connection to big pharma, but an authentic desire to put an end to these devastating diseases. We consulted with our team to see if this was the cause we collectively wanted to work on, and we were overwhelmed by the response. Everyone who works on the client, does so out of a deliberate choice and commitment to do so.

One of our values at TMS is being ‘all in’ so we want to partner with our pro-bono clients just as deeply as we do with paying clients, touching as many aspects of their business as we can to truly see how media can help solve their challenges.

Phase one involved procuring CSA inventory from our media partners to promote Cure Cancer’s “BarbeCure” campaign. Over FY23, thanks to the persistence of our team and the incredible generosity of our media partners, we delivered an estimated $4.9 million worth of free media inventory for them across digital, video, audio, social, OOH, TV and print. To say Cure Cancer has been blown away is an understatement. Our next phase began this week with a strategy session where we planned exciting ways to re-imagine how media can support Cure Cancer’s brand ambitions and ultimately more funds for more research.

B&T: What’s the story behind the sponsored swims?

JA: Beyond supporting their media efforts, we are always seeking ways to immerse ourselves in their business. When we heard about their Swim for a Cure fundraiser, our Culture Club put out a call to the agency to gauge interest. Eight volunteers stepped up to commit to their own swimming distance goal over March to raise money for Cure Cancer.

We had a collective team goal of $3,000, but we’ve already surpassed and we now sit second on Cure Cancer’s leaderboard (not that we’re competitive in any way)! We’ve been encouraging each other along the way, via our #swimforacure Slack channel, keeping each other accountable and sharing embarrassing swimming cap and goggle photos.

B&T: Why does this cause, in particular, matter to you both?

JA: Sadly, cancer touches each of our lives at some point. For me, we devastatingly lost a dear friend Ed to a blood cancer, multiple myeloma, 18 months ago and last year one of my best girlfriends from high school battled with breast cancer at only 48. On those days that were a bit chilly, or I was feeling apathetic, I only had to think about them and in the pool I got. During those cancer battles, I felt so helpless and so swimming this month was a very small thing I could do to raise some money for a charity I am passionate about and to raise awareness of the work they are supporting. If we aren’t supporting new research, I do fear for our kids’ futures.

SC: Everyone is touched by cancer, but there have been many young people close to me in recent years which really makes you question life. I think we can’t make progress without vital research. That plus the swim made sense to me, I come from a long line of swimmers. My grandmother swam for England and my mother won a gold medal for England in the European Masters aged 46!! It’s been good to get back to competitive swimming after giving it up at 18.

B&T: How can media industry firms help charities in ways that are mutually beneficial?

JA: That’s an interesting question as our only motivation was to support a charity we all believed in, we weren’t looking for mutual benefit. However, there is no doubt our involvement has galvanised our team, giving them opportunities to sell to the media knowing they have so many similar requests, and it’s allowed us all to feel proud of the positive impact our industry can truly have. It’s often said that in advertising we don’t save lives, but we truly believe the work the Cure Cancer-funded researchers are doing is. To play a small part in that is beyond satisfying.

You can donate here.




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