British Heart Foundation: Hard and Fast

Educating a nation on heart attacks through entertainment.

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No one goes to hospital to have a cardiac arrest; they have them at home, on the golf course or in the pub. Typically there’s never a paramedic around when you need one. 

We had to mobilise the public to step in and fill the time before ambulances arrived.  

Fortunately, the medical community had developed a new simplified ‘Hands-only CPR’ approach; a technique without the need for mouth to mouth. We could make bystanders the 5th emergency service. But the barriers were still significant:  


With no formal training nationally, the UK lagged well behind other western nations. Only a quarter of the UK is trained in CPR so the chances of someone helping are very low. In fact 82% of adults didn’t even know if CPR was the right response.


Emotional barriers were high.  76% of people admitted a lack of confidence to perform CPR. ‘I’m going to be making things worse’, ‘I don’t want to be judged’, ‘I know someone else could do better’, ‘I’m uncomfortable with mouth-to-mouth contact’ were all identified in research as significant obstacles 


We had a good budget £2m but it was dwarfed by other big behavioural changing campaigns in the same year; £4m was being spent trying to get people to stop smoking and a whopping 

£222m on the anti obesity/Change 4 Life programme.


We had to get people to notice us and remember us. We realised that the best public service communications worked on simplicity and instruction using different ‘hooks’ that pulled on different senses. Many used a clear visual moment with a snappy sounding phrase. Others offered a simply iconic action that could be easily copied.

Traditionally, serious situations require serious thought. But as we began to investigate we found a brilliant seam of advice that suggested fear could be defused through the power of laughter.  

American deadpan comic, Bob Newhart once said “Laughter gives us distance. It allows us to step back from an event, deal with it”.  

We realised we had to make it funny. 

Hence Vinnie Jones, a hard man in a camel coat, was unleashed to teach the UK to push hard and fast to the perfectly RPM tune of 

“Staying Alive” working across TV, Cinema, radio and digital.  


We flipped the conventions of serious health messaging and achieved 86% recognition in 4 weeks and increased people’s likelihood to perform ‘Hands-only CPR’ from 54% to 71%.  

Our army of 6m human defibrillators have already saved over 40 real lives to date. On our £2m investment we calculate a saving to society of £48.5m.

  • 55% increase on Facebook clickthrough rate from last year campaign
  • 25% increase on Instagram clickthrough rate from last year campaign
  • Over 500 unique journeys taken in under 2 weeks.
  • 22% re-engaged again the day after.
  • 24.9% of people who got to the bot landing page, chose to activate it
  • 96% of people who activated it, engaged with it 


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