To break down the big ‘C’ and ‘beating cancer’, by bringing real, immediate cancer moments to the public, that are emotionally engaging, tangible and help people understand how their actions today make a difference. We wanted to show in a stand out way that research is beating cancer right now.
People don’t believe cancer, the world’s biggest killer, can be beaten.
Half of us will get cancer in our lifetime. Over 150,000 British people die every year from the disease. 63% of people in the UK don’t believe cancer will ever be beaten. But thanks to forty years of research, new treatments have doubled the survival rate. But there’s still a long way to go. And Cancer Research UK, the country’s leading cancer research organisation, won’t stop until cancer’s a thing of the past.
Their 20-year ambition is for three-quarters of people with cancer to survive the disease for at least 10 years. To do this, the charity needs public generosity. It doesn’t receive any government funding for their life-saving research. Our objective was to show how far we’ve come in beating the big C.
We would show how far cancer treatment has come by live streaming a colonoscopy.
Many people see cancer is a singular, massive, relentless killer. Donating can seem hopeless. But when you look a little closer, there’s no such thing as the big C. There are many types, grades and stages of cancer.
Our idea was to show the public that not only will research one day beat the disease, but we’re already having a real and tangible effect on treatment and prevention. We would simply and effectively show the huge progress that research has made and the impact that it is having right now. Streamed live. From inside a human body.
In the UK around 41,000 people are diagnosed with bowel cancer each year, however if diagnosed early enough, 90% of people will survive bowel cancer. In a global broadcasting first, we teamed up with Channel 4, the UK’s third largest broadcaster, to live stream a colonoscopy during an ad break.
Our 90-second ‘Live from the inside’ advert would be shown during A New Life in the Sun, which is watched by over 300,000 people every day – the group that are most likely to donate, according to our research. And we’d let the rest of the country tune in too by live streaming the operation on Facebook – another world ﬁrst.
Our ambitious idea would provide viewers with a unique opportunity to watch the removal of bowel polyps - a procedure that can help prevent bowel cancer developing - across their devices.
Meticulous planning enabled a world-first live stream of a colonoscopy.
We drove awareness of our world-ﬁrst live-streamed TV advert by broadcasting 10-second teasers in the week before the live event across some of Channel 4’s biggest shows, including 24 Hours in A & E.
On 18th January 2017, it was showtime. At 15:25, the procedure was performed and ﬁlmed at Cardiff and Vale University hospital by Doctor Sunil Dolwani on our patient, Philip McSparron.
An expert in removing complex bowel polyps, Dr Dolwani performed the procedure using a camera linked to a ﬂexible tube called a colonoscope. Our footage showed him removing the polyps, explaining the simple procedure to viewers as it happened and reinforcing the importance of early detection.
Our advert was streamed on Facebook Live, with a cancer nurse then taking over our broadcast to answer viewers’ questions. The advert was then made available across Channel 4’s social media accounts. Liaising with Clearcast, the body responsible for approving adverts on British television channels, Channel 4, our creative agency Anomaly and an operating theatre(!) simultaneously created some huge barriers to overcome, however with meticulous planning, we managed to pull it off and run the live ad without a hitch.