Hard-hitting heart attack campaign from NHS does away with ‘clutch-and-drop’ cliché

The NHS is raising awareness of the early symptoms of a heart attack through a campaign created in partnership with M&C Saatchi.

Heart attack symptoms aren’t always severe, with people sometimes getting a squeezing sensation across the chest or a general feeling of unease, rather than the sudden sharp pains are often seen in portrayals of heart attacks in popular culture. The campaign’s core objective is to get people to recognize the early symptoms of a heart attack, ones that can often be dismissed or ignored, and give people permission to call 999 if they experience them.

To drive home the message, the campaign centers around a 30-second film, which depicts the early symptoms of a heart attack by showing a man standing in a layby at the side of a road, with hands emerging from his jacket and squeezing his chest. The voiceover tells viewers: “The early symptoms of a heart attack don’t always feel severe, but it’s never too early to call 999.”

Ben Golik, chief creative officer, M&C Saatchi, explained: “The dramatic film cliché of a ‘clutch-and-drop’ cardiac arrest has taken root as the popular understanding of a heart attack. But the actual symptoms vary, and can be much more insidious. This film’s powerful visual is inspired by descriptions from real heart attack survivors, and looks to sear a new and more true image on to the public consciousness.”

It launched on Valentine’s Day (February 14) and will run across VOD, radio and social channels, with media planning and buying conducted by OMD and Wavemaker, and PR by Freuds.

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