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By Amy Houston | Reporter

January 11, 2022 | 3 min read

Last week, the British Heart Foundation, alongside creative agency Saatchi & Saatchi, launched its New Year campaign aiming to inspire greater public support for its life-saving research.

‘This is Science,’ voiced by Cillian Murphy of Peaky Blinders, tells the real-life stories of people who are alive today thanks to the medical breakthroughs of the charity, but one scene in the film has caused a bit of a stir online.

Around the one-minute mark, viewers witness the jarring moment that a young girl suddenly drops to the ground during a football match. As the teenager’s mum rushes to her side, the camera pans to a shot of scientists establishing the best course of treatment for the youngster before the video finishes with a plea for public donations to keep funding important scientific work.

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After its release, there was an outcry among some online skeptics that the charity was using shock tactics in its marketing efforts and that it was ‘normalizing’ heart attacks in children. Notably, many of these concerns came from anti-vaxxers who were looking to perpetuate a darker narrative.

One Twitter user wrote: “They played this during the darts final break the biggest audience in Britain watched this propaganda.”

Conspiracy theories aside, some people felt that the British Heart Foundation really missed the mark on this campaign. In response, Claire Sadler, executive director of marketing, fundraising and engagement at the British Heart Foundation, tells The Drum: “The ad isn’t about normalizing heart attacks in young people, but the cruel reality is that around 12 people under 35 die every week in the UK of a sudden cardiac arrest, usually caused by an undiagnosed heart condition.”

Sadler continues: “We believe, with the campaign, it’s vitally important to raise public awareness of the potential of science to save more lives, and hope by doing so we inspire more support for our ground-breaking research.

“Before broadcasting the ad, we shared it with families affected by cardiac arrest, all of whom were supportive of us drawing attention to this heartbreaking reality, and the need for research to change it.”

It isn’t the first time the British charity has made a headline-grabbing video. Back in June last year it made a CPR ad 18 hours after footballer Christian Eriksen’s shocking pitch collapse.

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