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By John Glenday | Reporter

February 20, 2023 | 4 min read

NHS England is paying a visit to the bathroom to remind the public to complete their bowel cancer screening test.

B-roll footage sees the public health body remind viewers that “your next poo could save your life”, by depicting a man ‘ribbon dancing’ with toilet paper to the tune of I’ve Got to Be Me by Sammy Davis Jr.

Developed in partnership with M&C Saatchi London, the ad shows that there is nothing to be embarrassed about when taking a stool sample at home to send off for testing, with a third of those who receive a kit failing to look out for number one after doing a number two.

Seeking to smash a societal taboo the campaign aims to scotch assumptions that if you are not presenting any symptoms then there is no need to test, while also addressing hygiene fears and cultural sensitivities.

Phil Bastable, deputy director, head of marketing and social media team, NHS England, said: “This campaign by M&C Saatchi London addresses a serious, sensitive issue in an engaging and memorable way, showing how taking this quick, easy-to-use test really does have the power to save your life.”

Personifying this approach is a man in his 50s who breaks into a rhythmic dance while heading to the toilet, turning a loo roll into a makeshift ribbon in a celebration of life.

Quick cuts subsequently show a completed bowel cancer screening kit while a voiceover intones: “if you’re sent a bowel cancer screening kit, put it by the loo. Don’t put it off.”

Guy Bradbury, creative partner, M&C Saatchi London, adds: “to remind people who have been invited to take the bowel cancer test next time they go to the loo, we wanted to create a campaign that was distinctive, memorable and joyous, reminding people – through ribbon dance – that a simple screening test could save their lives. Or in the words of Sammy Davis Jr, ‘Live, not merely survive.”

The TV campaign is complemented by video-on-demand, search, social, online video and community radio.

Previous attempts to break through to the public on the sensitive issue include a visit by Lisa Snowdon to the village of Shitterton and moves by Andrex to advertise bowel cancer symptoms on its packaging.


M&C Saatchi London

Creative partner: Guy Bradbury

Creative director: Tom Kennedy

Copywriter: Amy Parkhill

Art director: Ed East

Agency producer: Ashley Williams

Executive producer: Gareth Williams

Senior account director: Tabby Powell-Tuck

Senior account manager: Emma Lowrey

Senior strategist: Hannah Thomson

Head of behavior change: Richard Storey

Client partner: Angus Maclay

Directors: Si&Ad

Academy Films

Executive producer: Medb Riordan

Producer: Georgina Smith

Production assistant: Heza Jalloh

DOP: Sebastian Wintero

Choreographer: Supple Nam

Production designer: Mikey Hollywood

1st AD: Clara Paris

Costume designer: Lucy Hagan

Edit house: The Assembly Rooms

Editor: Sam Rice-Edwards

Post house: nineteen twenty

Colorist: Kai van Beers

Sound design: James Saunders

Music supervision: Lizz Harman at DLMDD

NHS England

Deputy director, head of marketing and social media: Phil Bastable

Lead campaigns manager: Ben King

Senior campaigns manager: Imelda McAloon

Marketing Ad of the Day NHS

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