How West Park is helping patients realize they are ‘not done’

Who: West Park Foundation, with Mindshare Content+ and Blue Ant Plus working together on strategy and creative, while Blue Ant Plus managed production and Mindshare media.

What: “I am not done,” a new awareness campaign to help drive donations to West Park Healthcare Centre in Toronto.

When & Where: Creative is running on TV, digital, print and out-of-home across Ontario until Feb. 9.

Why: West Park, which provides in-patient and outpatient rehabilitative care for people following a life-altering illness or injury, needs to raise $80 million to help complete a massive reconstruction project.

The problem is that West Park, despite its important work, it is not well-known in and around Toronto, where other big name healthcare organizations are also looking for donations.

Many of West Park’s patients are brought in unable to move, said Joanne Cole, the foundation’s CEO. And the hospital provides the treatment that allows them to walk out again and back to their life. “We do really important work at West Park, and nobody knows about us,” said Cole. “We often say to one another that West Park is the best kept secret in the city of Toronto.”

Fundraising for West Park is also complicated by the fact that, as a rehab centre, it does not have as many patients as acute care hospitals, added Lorena Chiarotto, senior director, communications planning at Mindshare. Donations are easier to get when there’s a personal relationship with the individual or their family. “When you have fewer people coming through your doors, but they’re staying with you that much longer, fundraising becomes that much more of a challenge.”

West Park needed an ad campaign that would help tell the story of the hospital, explain and show the kind of important work it does, and most importantly make an emotional connection with the audience to encourage donations.

How: The core of the campaign is three TV spots each featuring a real West Park patient: Jamoi who had a leg amputated; Rashmi who was paralyzed by a spinal tumour, and Kim who endured a debilitating respiratory illness.

Each spot opens with the individual literally in the shadows, recounting the frightening experience of receiving a diagnosis that could mean a life changing disability. As the ad progresses, their stories change to focus on their recovery and how West Park helped get their life back. They move from the shadows into the light and each declares, “I am not done.”

“We took those patients, told what we thought were their very compelling stories, and through those stories, we hope that people get a bit of a flavour for the kind of work that we do,” said Cole. “The kind of patients that we treat and… the outcomes that we’ve produced.”

The ads needed to have high production values, on the same level as some of the other well-known campaigns from the likes of SickKids Foundation and CAMH, said Toni Rufo, head of client services at Blue Ant Plus. “One of the other things that is subtle, but I think important, is we wanted to show them doing some of their actual exercises… we wanted to show the whole process of rehab and how it’s an ongoing everyday thing.”

The tag line: The “I am not done” tagline came from the strategy team at Mindshare talking with the senior leadership at West Park.

“They really started with the stories of the patients, and what we really took away from all of the stories, was the hope that was there, and that the teams at West Park just enabled hope,” said Chiarotto. “So that’s really where it all came from.”

There is “magic” in that line for patients, added Cole. “To know I am not done. There’s more that I can do, I am in control of my own rehab, and I can achieve things. I am not done.”




David Brown