SickKids brings cinema audience to their feet

SickKids hopes this video of five-year-old "real life hero" Antonio getting a surprise standing ovation will encourage viewers to have a "share of heart" as part of its expanded fundraising campaign.

One year after being featured in SickKids’ “You Got It” spot, five-year-old Antonio is taking another star turn in an emotional fundraising campaign – only this time, it was a surprise.

After watching a faux superhero movie trailer turn into a celebration of a SickKids success story, the audience at a Toronto movie theatre rose to their feet to applaud Antonio, who was treated for acute lymphoblastic leukemia at the children’s hospital last year, after it was revealed that the “real life hero” was seated among them. The result is a two minute YouTube video that debuted online Monday.

David Morelli, director of marketing, SickKids Foundation, hopes viewers will have a “share of heart” and spread the video virally. It’s part of a 50% increase in digital spending over last year’s campaign that will see banner ads on Rogers’ online properties, as well as Glam Media and MSN.

With creative by JWT and media by Mindshare, SickKids is hoping to build on last year’s “Together We Will” campaign, which Morelli calls a “big success,” by extending the TV spots and visuals and bolstering it with the new online component.

“One of the ideas that bubbled up internally here was the concept of ‘one year later’ that people often see a commercial one year, in this case the SickKids patients and their families, but then they don’t see what happens, so we wanted to revisit them,” Morelli says. “We wanted to do some kind of a surprise and delight video where there is a reveal, something that was more web-friendly in terms of people’s viewing habits and what we know is well received online.”

From there, JWT developed and brought the “real life heroes” activation with Antonio to life in the movie theatre.

Last year’s TV spots will be running again on conventional and specialty, CTV and Shaw primarily, with 60-second spots running the first week followed by 30- and 15-second iterations through the duration of the campaign. The TV buy, targeting mostly at women 25 to 50 with families, constitutes about two thirds of the overall spend. That’s complemented by a limited print buy including a domination in 24 Hours and a spend with Cineplex to be on 133 screens in nine theatres in the GTA.

The campaign was launched Nov. 11 and runs through the end of the year.