Client: NHS
Date: Feb 2021
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To draw attention to the fact that a cough lasting three weeks or more could be a sign of lung cancer, NHS England has worked with M&C Saatchi on an awareness campaign, titled 'Warning Sign'.

While Lung cancer is the third most common cancer in England, with around 39,300 cases per year, it is the biggest cause of cancer deaths. With member of the public reluctant to use NHS services durnig the pandemic, lung cancer GP referrals remain lower than before the pandemic.

To address these issues, Public Health England and NHS England have worked with M&C Saatchi to develop a campaign to encourage those with the key early symptom of lung cancer (a cough for three weeks or more) to contact their GP practice.

To dramatise this, M&C Saatchi created a distinctive visual asset – a warning sign on the chest, much like the type you’d seen on a car dashboard. In a TV spot, directed by Josh Feder at Agile Films, every time the protagonist coughs, unbeknown to him, a warning sign lights up on his chest, as if it’s emanating from inside him. The ad shows him coughing in various scenarios over the course of a three-week period, dramatising the cough’s persistence and the way in which people can just ignore symptoms that hang around. It isn’t until his partner expresses concern that he accepts he needs to see a GP.

The ad’s voiceover states: “If you’ve had a cough for three weeks or more, and it isn’t Covid-19, it could still be a warning sign. It’s probably nothing serious, but it could be a sign of cancer. Just contact your GP practice.”

The initiative is the latest in a series of ‘Help Us, Help You’ campaigns which seek to address barriers to accessing the NHS and encourage people with early signs of cancer to speak to their GP. The campaigns aim to assure people that despite Covid-19, the NHS is ready to see those that need care in a safe way.