Santa's having a heart attack in this shocking holiday campaign from a cardiac charity

Print, social and radio ads from Heart Research UK aim to raise awareness of risks over festive period

Published On
Dec 20, 2021

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A provocative new campaign from the U.K. aims to raise awareness of the dangers of cardiac events over the Christmas period, and it’s fronted someone whose stressful job, poor diet, irregular exercise and fondness for mince pies puts him at dangerously high risk for a heart attack on Christmas Eve. That is, St. Nicholas himself.

Agency FCB Health Europe created a series of ads featuring hand-painted illustrations of classic Christmas scenes. At first glance they look like old-fashioned Christmas cards, but look a little closer and you’ll notice that Santa is variously clutching his chest on his sleigh and on a snowy roof, and in one scene, collapsing against the Christmas tree as he delivers gifts. They carry the message that “Heart attack risk rises 15% at Christmas time.”

The ads are running online, on social media and in print, and are accompanied by a radio spot, below, narrated by actor Mark Bonnar, giving an alternative version of “The Night Before Christmas” in which Santa collapses, worn out from the stress of rushing around and consuming all those mince pies.

The campaign has also partnered with online card marketplace Thortful to create a set of limited-edition Christmas cards showing the festive scenes restored to how they should look, with Santa as his usual merry self, delivering presents all across town. Proceeds from sales of the cards will go towards funding Heart Research UK.

“Christmas is a special time of year when we can all let our hair down and over-indulge a little and the aim of this campaign is to merely remind everyone that moderation is a good thing,” said Kate Bratt-Farrar, Chief Executive at Heart Research UK, in a statement. “Eating healthily, exercising, and taking care of ourselves can sometimes take a back seat over the Christmas period and therefore we are just reminding people that striking a good balance is the key to a happy and healthy Christmas. Our campaign aims to draw attention to the impact of not taking care of our health, with a familiar face at the helm. We don’t want to shock or upset people but to educate and inform, at Christmas and all year round.” 



Dec 20, 2021
Client :
Heart Research UK
Agency :
FCB Health Europe
President :
Jörg Hempelmann
Executive Creative Director :
David Prater
Executive Creative Director :
Jamie MacCarthy-Morrogh
Associate Creative Director :
Christian Louzado
Senior Copywriter :
Simon Wood
Client Service Director :
Philippa Crabb
Director PR & Communications :
Jerome Cholet
Account Executive :
Siya Amin
Design Director :
Simon Robinson
Senior Designer :
Kristian Binks
Creative Resources Director :
Shanie Connard

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