Héma-Québec celebrates 25 years of giving life in anniversary ad

Who: Non-profit organization Héma-Québec with Sid Lee for creative, strategy, PR and production; La Majeure for audio; and Tam-Tam\TBWA for media.

What: “For Life,”  a 30-second ad celebrating Héma-Québec’s 25th anniversary and raising awareness of the organization’s donation services. It’s the brand’s first collaboration with Sid Lee since the agency was named creative AOR in June.

When & Where: The spot will run on TV across Quebec until Dec. 31, accompanied by social and digital.

Why: Héma-Québec supplies Québec hospitals with nearly 820,000 human-derived biological donations every year including blood, plasma, cord blood, stem cells, breast milk and human tissue, but data collected by the organization suggests people aren’t aware of all of their services.

“We’re best known for our blood and plasma clinics, but over the years, our mandate has become much more diversified, said Héma-Québec’s Director of marketing strategy and brand image Catherine Viau, in a press release.

The organization collects information on different types of donations and the public’s associations with the brand on a yearly basis, she told The Message. While Héma-Québec dedicates specific content and media buys to each donation category, these efforts generally target a narrow audience. Héma-Québec wanted a campaign that talked to a mass audience about all of what it offers.

How (the strategy): Sid Lee was given the mandate for the 25th anniversary campaign when they were selected as the brand’s creative AOR, and they developed the idea of “given years” (additional years that patients live after receiving a donation) early on, said the agency’s creative director Julie Desrochers. “We quickly realized that those receivers were key to our concept. That they were giving us the opportunity to highlight other expertises Héma-Québec has developed over the years [that go] beyond the blood donation they are very well known for, like breast milk—which is turned into medicine for extremely premature babies—and stem cells, which can cure cancer.”

How (the creative): The ad features real donation recipients, Nathan, Mai and Jean, blowing out candles representative of their “given years”: two, nine, and 25 respectively, as a warm and intimate voice sings “Happy Birthday.” While each recipient celebrates with their loved ones, the super explains which donation type saved their life, ending with the phrase “Here for life.”

Sid Lee opted to use real people rather than paid actors to maintain authenticity, but it required extra sensitivity in the production process, said Desrochers. “The team took all the precautions on set, and before, to make sure that not only our main characters felt at ease, but also their family and friends, who graciously accepted to be part of this project. We knew that we would not be able to redo the scenes many times, especially with a two year old, so we were more than prepared. But the thing that helped us the most, was that the emotion was pure for all the participants. Even after a few takes, because it was the life of their loved ones they were celebrating.”

And we quote: [Héma-Québec] is way more than a brand: it’s about donors, volunteers, employees, partners and health professionals that put in great efforts in helping a person in need. We should not take this for granted. But the reality is no one worries if he or she will be able to get a blood transfusion if needed, thankfully.” – Catherine Viau, Héma-Québec’s director of marketing strategy and brand image

Emma Johnston-Wheeler