On Wednesday 18 January at 15.20 Channel 4 broadcast a live colonoscopy during an ad break, as part of Cancer Research UK’s “Cancer is Happening Right Now” campaign. It aimed to demonstrate that “thanks to research, there are many things happening across the UK right now to help prevent, diagnose and treat cancer”.
The advert showed Dr Sunil Dolwani at University Hospital Wales removing bowel polyps from 60-year-old patient, Philip.
It began with an explanation of what was about to be shown:
“Broadcasting live from inside the human body 18th January 15.20”
and included the advisory message that the advertisement “contains graphic medical content”.
Live video is now becoming a standard option for individuals, companies and charities using a variety of tools including Facebook Live, Periscope, YouTube Live Events, Livestream and Bambuser. Until now, however, applying that to a TV advertising slot had not been attempted, at least not by a charity, and certainly not from “inside the human body”.
The CRUK advert was educational and respectful: the patient had a name, and the doctor was explaining what he was doing and why throughout.
The advert concluded with CRUK’s message that ‘Research is improving treatments right now’. The call to action was ‘Donate right now’, together with the charity’s web address.
At the end of the 1 min 31 second advert there was just enough time for Dr Dolwani to ask Philip, who was conscious throughout, how he was feeling, to which he replied “great”.
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