comic relief

Comic Relief

Client: Comic Relief – International marketing of “Mary and Martha” – a film to raise awareness about malaria



More than 650,000 people, mostly children under five years of age, will die from malaria this year. Malaria is preventable, and with the right actions, malaria deaths could be ended in our lifetime.

Scope of work

Skating Panda worked with Comic Relief to create an international outreach strategy for the film ‘Mary and Martha’, with territories prioritised for campaign delivery according to the potential for impact.

The film is a powerful 90 minute film for television starring Hilary Swank (Oscar/ Academy Award Winner) and Brenda Blethyn (BAFTA/Golden Globe winner), written by Richard Curtis (Four Weddings and a Funeral and Notting Hill) and directed by Phillip Noyce (Rabbit‐Proof Fence). Hilary Swank plays Mary, an American, and Brenda Blethyn, plays Martha, an English woman. They have little in common apart from one terrible thing ‐ they both lose sons to malaria. The film screened in the UK on BBC One in March 2013 and on HBO in the US, and in over 30 countries on or near to World Malaria Day 2013.

A global message platform about the film and the issue of malaria was created to ensure consistent language was used. Then, working in partnership with leading broadcasters and NGOs in ten countries, we facilitated strategic promotional activity to extend the film’s reach and raise awareness of malaria.


Private screenings of ‘Mary and Martha’ were held around the world, attended by hundreds of people from the worlds of media, charity, celebrity and politics. In addition, an international social media moment on Twitter using #maryandmartha resulted in thousands of tweets. The profile of the film and of malaria prevention were raised significantly in the lead up to World Malaria Day 2013. As a result, many more influential people have a better of understanding about malaria and its effects.

“Skating Panda offer the unusual mix of being creative and strategic, whilst being policy-minded! For us, it’s crucial to work with a small yet dedicated team who make OUR priorities THEIR priorities. They felt like an extension of our team, and we always felt we were in incredibly safe hands.”

Cathy Mahoney, Head of Public Education, Comic Relief