Chocs away: how the BHF aims to boost DECHOX support

By Nicky Tomkins 27/02/2018

Even a successful annual fundraising event can be made sweeter, and that was the aim when the British Heart Foundation (BHF) briefed WPNC to help make this year’s DECHOX the biggest ever.

The initiative – which sees donors signing up to a no-chocolate challenge that lasts a whole month – has enjoyed better results each year since its 2015 launch. In previous years, cheeky creative has run on radio, supported by poster ads and some digital work. This year, BHF was keen for DECHOX to hit TV screens.

“The work doesn’t deviate too far from the edgy tone in DECHOX’s existing creative, but we know the rules are different for TV. We needed something funny and disruptive that would go as far as possible without getting turned down by [broadcast advertising regulator] Clearcast,” explains Hannah Williams, WPNC group account director. “But mostly they needed it fast, and that took all our expertise.”

BHF marketing manager Dan Field confirms that the 30-second TV ad was turned around from script to screen in “record-breaking time” during a hectic fortnight ahead of its February 1st roll-out.

“It was brilliant to see creative resource accompanying the camera crew on the day, in the shape of the agency’s creative director and copywriter,” enthuses Dan. “That allowed us to make changes to the script there and then, as we were initially finding it difficult to fit into just 30 seconds. Despite having to tweak the script, we’re really happy with the piece and comedic tone it delivers.”


DECHOX’s first foray into TV begins with a slice of chocolate heaven, close-up cake shots echoing the “food porn” of M&S’ renowned ads. But we’re soon sympathising with actress Kylie Mulliner, who has signed up for DECHOX and is seen agonising over a chocolate truffle, while beseeching viewers to join her in a month of abstinence from March 1st.

 “You wouldn’t think it was an ad for BHF,” adds Hannah. “We’re confident its mischievous, mass-market appeal will help the charity beat its sign-up and fundraising targets. There’s a secret chocoholic in all of us and this is about setting yourself - and hopefully family, friends and colleagues - a personal challenge you can take up from the comfort of your own home.”

The ad has been hitting screens on the likes of Sky and Channel 4, and an audio version has been running on radio stations including the Magic network. Meanwhile, there was lots of additional footage left over from the shoot, which is likely to be turned into shareable content for BHF to use on its social media platforms - including Facebook and YouTube - during the campaign.

Targeting a slightly younger demographic is key to hitting this year’s goals. “We’ve adapted poster ads and are using the digital approach to encourage younger adults to take part,” says Hannah. “I think there’s a well-known trend for under-30s to be particularly socially aware and we wanted to tap into that mood by raising awareness of DECHOX and BHF’s crucial work through the creative.”

That work includes ongoing, life-saving research into heart problems. It’s clear there’s a serious message behind the ads, despite their irreverent tone. “Heart issues can impact anyone, regardless of how healthy you think you are,” adds Hannah. “BHF is trying to push that message and we’ve been lucky enough to see behind the scenes into the amazing work the charity does.”

There’s already been an uptick in support, Dan reveals, in the first few weeks after the campaign went live. BHF is aiming for £1.2m revenue and more than 20,000 people taking part. And with DECHOX coming to an end just in time for Easter Sunday on April 1st, Dan maintains it’s the perfect time to get involved.

Creative work complete, the agency team is keeping an eye on the donations rolling in – they just won’t be tucking into chocolate while they watch.


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