NHS marks Valentine’s Day with hard-hitting heart attack campaign


Talk about affairs of the heart, NHS England has marked Valentine’s Day with a hard-hitting new campaign aimed at raising awareness of the early symptoms of a heart attack. 

The push was created in partnership with M&C Saatchi London.

Heart attack awareness

M&C Saatchi partnered with NHS England to create a campaign with the core objective of getting people to recognise the early symptoms of a heart attack, which can often be dismissed or ignored.

Symptoms aren’t always severe, with people sometimes getting a squeezing sensation across the chest or a general feeling of unease, rather than the sudden sharp pains often seen in portrayals of heart attacks in popular culture. 

The new campaign aims to raise awareness of this and give people the encouragement and permission they need to call 999 right away if they experience these symptoms.

A powerful 30-second film, directed by Barney Cokeliss at Mad Cow Films, depicts the early symptoms of a heart attack by showing a man standing in a layby at the side of a road, with hands emerging from his jacket and squeezing his chest. 

The voiceover tells viewers: “The early symptoms of a heart attack don’t always feel severe, but it’s never too early to call 999.”

The campaign is running across VOD, radio and social channels. Media planning and buying is by OMD and Wavemaker, and PR is by Freuds.

Ben Golik, Chief Creative Officer, M&C Saatchi, said: “The dramatic film cliché of a “clutch and drop” cardiac arrest has taken root as the popular understanding of a heart attack. 

“But the actual symptoms vary, and can be much more insidious. 

“This film’s powerful visual is inspired by descriptions from real heart attack survivors, and looks to sear a new and more true image onto the public consciousness.”