Raising money and awareness, with a realistic reminder of the dangers of heart disease

Who: Montreal Heart Institute Foundation, with Cossette for strategy and creative, Gorditos for production (directed by Raphaël Ouellet), Septième for post-production, Circonflex, Shed for sound and music, and Cossette Media for media.

What: “Les yeux du cœur” or “The Eyes of the Heart,” a fundraising and public awareness campaign centred on the message that heart disease can strike people of any age.

When & Where: The campaign is live now, with a two-plus minute film running online, along with a :30 cutdown appearing on TVA, Radio-Canada and Noovo’s online streaming services, along with social and digital banners.

Why: Despite the fact 90% of Canadians have at least one risk factor for heart disease, many people believe heart disease only affects older people, particularly men. The reality is that no one is immune, said Hugo Fournier, senior director, strategy lead at Cossette.

“We’re definitely trying to open up the conversation around cardiovascular diseases to a wider and younger audience, so they start to relate a bit more to the cause.”

How: The campaign is anchored by a two-plus minute film which uses an effective misdirect to deliver its core message. It opens with a father and daughter in a hospital, receiving a worrying diagnosis from a doctor. From there the viewer is taken literally inside an open-heart surgery, with close-ups of incisions and blood, and an even anxious moment when the patient flat-lines. The twist comes more than a minute in, when the viewer discovers it’s the young daughter getting the heart surgery, not the father.

The rest of the spot shows the young woman slowly but steadily recovering, ending with her father arriving to take her home. “Open Your Heart,” appears on screen, followed by a call to donate. The hauntingly beautiful soundtrack is a cover of “Les yeux du cœur” (“The Eyes of the Heart”), a hit for Gerry Boulet in Quebec in the 1980s.

“The campaign elements work together,” said Fournier. “While the hero video is being optimized mainly on digital to generate maximum effect in terms of reach and awareness among a younger crowd, the role of lower-funnel touchpoints [including a partnership with Manuvie] is more geared towards conversion of action/donations.”

And we quote: “Conveying the emotional toll of the disease on patients and their loved ones to grab people’s attention—and get them to donate—is no easy task. Thank you to all the teams that were involved in telling the story of our everyday reality.” —Alain Gignac, CEO, Montreal Heart Institute Foundation


David Brown