Hayley Wickenheiser backs “Be the MVP” campaign for lung cancer awareness

Who: Merck, with CloudRaker and Manic Pixie for creative and strategy; Big Pig Production Co. for production (directed by Mark Rozeluk); Manic Pixie for post-production and audio; Kook Colour for colour; and Panopoly for media.

What: “Change the Odds,” a new campaign for Lung Cancer Awareness Month on Merck’s “Be the MVP” platform, starring Canadian hockey legend Hayley Wickenheiser.

When & Where: The campaign began Nov. 1, the start of Lung Cancer Awareness Month, and is running nationally as online and social video, out of home and PR, all driving to an updated BeTheMVP.ca website.

Why: Canada has one of the highest rates of lung cancer in the world and 50% are diagnosed at Stage 4, meaning an extremely low survival rate. To help improve those odds, Merck wants to raise awareness about risk factors and the importance of early detection.

“Early detection of lung cancer is key to improving your chance of survival and through awareness and meaningful action, we can help make a difference,” said Marwan Akar, president and managing director, Merck Canada.

Merck introduced “Be the MVP” three years ago, with the support of CloudRaker, believing that hockey and MVP would be an effective, relatable metaphor for a campaign message about people protecting themselves and their loved ones from lung cancer.

“Early detection of lung cancer may respond more to treatment, and we’re pleased to see Merck Canada and Hayley bringing awareness to this important issue with the ‘Be the MVP’ campaign,” said Shem Singh, executive director, Lung Cancer Canada, in a release. “Through education and empowerment, both for patients and caregivers, we can save lives.”

How: Wickenheiser is an ideal fit for the campaign. Aside from being one of Canada’s greatest ever hockey players, she became a medical doctor after her playing career was over.

The 45-second anchor spot opens with Wickenheiser on the ice, holding a tablet and talking to five players surrounding her. At first it seems as if she’s providing coaching advice, but as the camera pans around, it’s revealed that the tablet actually has a lung X-ray.

“The best defence is a good offence,” she says in voiceover. “I take the same approach into my practice as a physician,” she says, as the scene flips from Wickenheiser as hockey great to Wickenheiser as doctor, talking to a patient in an office. After directly explaining the benefits of early detection of lung cancer, Wickenheiser closes the spot with the call to action: “Let’s get the early lead on lung cancer and help change the odds, together,” she says as a throw to the website appears on screen.


David Brown