On Wednesday 18th January, MediaCom and creative agency Anomaly collaborated with Channel 4 and Sassy Films to deliver a first in global broadcasting, to air a live colonoscopy during an ad break.
In the run up to the live event 10 second teasers were launched on 16 January on Channel 4. The 90 second advert, titled ‘Live from the Inside’, was shown at 3.25pm and represents the first time this procedure has been performed live in an ad break. It provided viewers with a unique opportunity to watch the removal of bowel polyps* as it took place. While most polyps don’t develop into cancer, some do, therefore removing them can help prevent bowel cancer developing. Viewers had another chance to see a 60 second version of the ad on the 18 January at approximately 9.30pm in the second break of Channel 4 drama No Offence – currently attracting an average overnight audience of 1.9 million viewers.
Ed Aspel, executive director of fundraising and marketing at Cancer Research UK said: “Half of us will be diagnosed with cancer in our lifetime so it’s important to break down barriers, encourage conversation and show the progress that is being made in beating cancer. It’s our ambition to speed up progress so that within the next 20 years, three in four people will survive their cancer for at least 10 years. At Cancer Research UK, we rely on people’s generosity as we don’t receive any government funding for our life-saving research. We hope the advert was able to show the impact research has made so far and inspire people to see how their support can enable continued work to beat cancer.”
Danny Peace, agency principal from Channel 4, said the partnership between the broadcaster and CRUK delivered “a truly unique and highly engaging experience for viewers, whilst conveying a very important message”.
Real people and real stories are at the heart of CRUK’s campaign which launched on Boxing Day. The adverts aim to give a truthful insight into the lives of those affected by cancer. They also show the impact of their research on the lives of cancer patients today. The live TV broadcast was supported by a Facebook stream with a cancer nurse answering viewers’ questions. To date, there has been over 100,000 organic views of the ad online.
Live broadcasts and video streaming are set to be one of the biggest trends for media for 2017. Facebook heavily promoted its Facebook Live service at the end of last year, while its sister company Instagram added live video functionality in November. Twitter recently agreed a deal to live-stream 10 NFL matches for free worldwide, turning the platform into a live TV broadcaster. Meanwhile Snapchat’s new wearable product Spectacles made the news when a teaching surgeon wore the glasses to live-stream part of an operation.
There are already signs that brands are using live video for more sophisticated marketing purposes, such as product launches. In December, Xbox used Twitter’s new Periscope Producer tool to live-stream the trailer for a new game, attracting more than 300,000 viewers.
It remains to be seen how live broadcast will translate into revenue, or donations in the case of CRUK but at the very least such examples highlight the opportunities for brands to create the opportunity for interaction and awareness among consumers.
*Bowel polyps are small growths on the inner lining of the colon (large bowel) or rectum. They are common, and not usually cancerous, although if they’re discovered they may need to be removed, as some will eventually turn into cancer if left untreated