Top health awareness program: Becel’s Heart Truth



Think of three of the most important women in your life. Now imagine that, tragically, one of them dies from heart disease. If things don’t change, statistics say that will happen because currently, one in three Canadian women – nearly 50,000 each year – dies from the disease. In fact, heart disease kills more Canadian women than the next six leading causes of death combined. But as of 2007, only 13% of women knew this to be true.

In 2008, the Heart & Stroke Foundation announced a new initiative called ‘The Heart Truth’ to raise awareness of heart disease as the number one killer of Canadian women. Becel recognized that becoming the founding sponsor of this initiative would be a significant opportunity to deliver on the brand’s mission of improving the health of Canadian hearts.


Becel sought to illustrate how one woman’s life is connected to many others, celebrating that supportive network and powerful collective voice. The brand identified a compelling insight: women have a natural desire to support one another, yet they place themselves last on the priority list.

Based on this, Becel decided that instead of asking women to save their own life, they should help save the life of a woman they love. As Heart Truth Champions, they were asked to raise awareness and start conversations in the community about women’s heart health.


High levels of awareness during Heart Month (February) were key to success. Spots ran nationally in English and French, featuring a cross-section of average women in English Canada and well-known media personality Patricia Paquin in Quebec, and a 13-week media sponsorship of Slice talk show Three Takes.

A national print and PR campaign included the Foundation’s first Red Dress fashion show – of which Becel was the founding sponsor – where celebrities including fashion maven Jeanne Beker, actress Catherine O’Hara, comedienne Mary Walsh and TV personalities Sandie Rinaldo and Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau sported red designer dresses. In stores, a promotion bundled a free red dress bracelet with one million Becel packs.

All these initiatives drove back to and, featuring an interactive ‘heart age tool’ that calculates the ‘age’ of your heart which can then be compared to chronological age. Also available from the site, a Heart Truth Community Action Kit gave champions the tools to organize and lead a lively, informative multimedia presentation, including a presenter’s guide, DVD documentary, slide presentation, speaking notes, and handouts for the audience.

The program went live Feb. 14, and ran until the week of April 21.


The results far exceeded expectations. In three months, the campaign helped to nearly double awareness that heart disease is the number one killer of Canadian women, increasing awareness from 13% to 23%. For Becel, the program yielded a +9.3% net sales value growth (vs. +5% anticipated). In Quebec, net sales value grew 26.9%.

The second Heart Truth fashion show took place at LG Fashion Week 2009 in March. Also new in ’09 was a sold-out benefit concert held in Toronto last month, featuring Diana Krall, and a simultaneous French language concert in Montreal.

Judges’ comments

‘I like the fact that they identified a significant health issue that is not well understood and clearly raised awareness of it with key audiences. The cause connects well with previous Becel positioning around healthy food and living choices, and incorporates a unique supportive and collective approach (i.e., ‘save the life of a woman you love’).’

-Peter ter Weeme, Junxion Strategy

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