The Undeading (Heart & Stroke)

Events, Seasonal and Short-Term (SILVER)

Client Credits: Heart & Stroke Foundation
Geoff Craig, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer
Mark Holland, Director, Health Promotion and Public Affairs
Krista Orendorff, Manager, Public Affairs
Sumi Shanmuganthan, Senior Project Specialist, Advocacy
Nadia Formigoni, Communications Specialist, Resuscitation Programs
Ali Salam, Manager, Health Promotion
Karen Trainoff, Senior Manager, Health Partnerships
Joanne Cullen, Senior Manager, Parent Brand and Marketing Programs
Andrew Lotto, Manager, Resuscitation Programs
Alex Maheux, Associate Manager, Media Relations
Teresa Roncon, Senior Manager, Media Relations
Lynn Poto, Senior Administrative Assistant, Research Advocacy and Health Promotion

Agency Credits: Agency59
Brian Howlett, CCO
Naeem Walji, AD
Ketan Manohar, CW
Akiyo Hattori, Account Director
Al Scornaienchi, President, Strategy
Jared Smith, Studio Head
Andrew Gillingham, CD
Eric Chen, Programming
Kwesi Holder, Media Director
Karen Stein, Media Executive
Maggie Kelly, Broadcast Producer
Brian Santangelo, Digital Artist
Deirdre Hughes, Design Head

Videos (176 MB)

Attached Files

TheUndeading_CassiesCreative.pdf (13 MB)

Total 2422 Words


Business Results Period (Consecutive Months):October 2012 - November 2012
Start of Advertising/Communication Effort: September 26, 2012
Base Period as a Benchmark: November 2011

a) Overall Assessment

Someone goes down on the ground right in front of you on a crowded sidewalk. Cardiac arrest. What do you do? Most would call 9-1-1. Which is good. But only a few would know how to administer CPR. And that, unfortunately, can be the difference between life and death.

The plain fact is, CPR is a skill too few people know. If all someone does is call 9-1-1, a cardiac arrest victim has a 5% chance of surviving. If CPR is performed right away, the survival rate increases 24%.

And pardon the expression, but it’s deadly easy to learn - requiring just one, 60-minute session. 

Unfortunately, bystander CPR save-rates in Ontario have remained static for the past 20 years, at 5%. Compare this to, for instance, Seattle, which has a 20% save-rate. In 2012, the Heart&Stroke Foundation realized that clearly, there’s work to be done. Especially when you consider that simply increasing the rate from 5% to 16.5% will save 329 more lives.

November is CPR Month. In 2011, the Heart&Stroke Foundation and its network of trainers conducted fifteen different training sessions for small groups in various communities, training a total of 700 people in CPR. These efforts were supported only by local, tactical advertising programs, and not any mass advertising.

For 2012, we changed the game with THE UNDEADING. The Heart&Stroke Foundation boldly set out to break a record for live training in one day. We created an ambitious Youtube film as the centerpiece; a film that aimed to entertain, rather than preach. We hosted it on a microsite that served as the hub of an elaborate social media campaign that over the course of four short weeks, would invite thousands of people to learn, share and sign up for a live training event to be held at Canada’s Wonderland.

The Heart & Stroke Foundation creates campaigns on nutrition, anti-smoking, heart health and stroke awareness. These are all vital long-term behaviour change programs aimed at extending the health and improving the life of Canadians. 

But learning CPR is the one behaviour change that can save a life instantly.

b) Resulting Business Objectives

The Heart&Stroke Foundation set ambitious objectives with THE UNDEADING campaign. First and foremost, it declared that to mark CPR Month 2012, it would aim to set a North American record for the number of people trained live in CPR at one time.

Second, it set out to raise broad awareness of the importance of learning CPR among hundreds of thousands more people.

The core business objectives were to maintain the Heart&Stroke Foundation's leadership in CPR training, (or in other words, dominate market share in the ‘saving lives’ category) and build on its previous successes. These include having deployed 2,500 AED's (defibrillators) in public spaces across Ontario, the largest deployment in North American history; and training 25,000 people to date in CPR.

The Heart&Stroke Foundation wanted to demonstrate its commitment to this cause - and ability to innovate to broaden its reach - to the Ontario government, upon which it relied in part for funding.

Big picture: the Foundation wanted to redefine CPR Month and put CPR training on the public’s radar like never before.


c) Annual Media Budget
$100,000 - $200,000

d) Geographic Area
Greater Toronto Area

a) Analysis and Insight

A key research finding laid the foundation of THE UNDEADING. We were surprised to learn that young people were the most likely to perform CPR in public. With this insight in hand, we targeted an entirely new demographic, those between the ages of 18 to 24. Historically, CPR awareness campaigns target a much wider, predominantly older demographic; adults 18-55. Narrowing the focus allowed us to question everything we'd done before, and think about things in fresh, new ways. For instance, a conventional training film, 'instructing' people how to do CPR, long a staple of CPR campaigns, would, frankly, in our case, be the kiss of death. Instead, we went after young adults hard, and on their terms, and on their channels. 

This insight also impacted the campaign’s timing. Even though CPR Month is November, we saw a new opportunity with the youth target. November is not the ideal month for a campaign aimed at young people. It is pre-holidays, and secondary and post-secondary academic commitments are ramping up. So what if, instead, we kicked off CPR Month in October, thereby generating buzz that would last through November.

This held more promise. October is the season of Halloween, a tremendously popular holiday with young people. Plus, there was a built-in link to Halloween - a season of ghosts, spirits and the dead - and learning a skill that can ward off death itself; CPR.

b) Communication Strategy

This strategic thinking was the crucial first step in setting ourselves apart from other CPR initiatives. The Heart & Stroke Foundation would leverage the popularity of Halloween among young people, developing a campaign that entertained them, engaged with them live and on social media, to ultimately show them how easy and important CPR training is. 

And rather than promoting a series of smaller training events, as in years past, we knew that trying to stage one large training session would generate more awareness. By kicking things off in such dramatic fashion, we could then build on this awareness through the month of November, to invite participation in the smaller training events that would still be held in local centres across Ontario.

We partnered with Canada’s Wonderland as the venue for the live training event, to be held October 25. This theme park not only had the space to accommodate thousands of people, but it also held the popular Halloween Haunt every October. We struck a partnership in which Canada’s Wonderland would promote THE UNDEADING in its own advertising, and as added incentive to sign up, people would be given free admission to the theme park that evening. In fact, Canada’s Wonderland closed off its park that night, for the exclusive use of the UNDEADING participants, as a reward for completing their training. 

a) Media Used

Transit shelters in the GTA, targeting high school and college campuses.

Traditional online pre-roll and in-banner video ads on youth-oriented sites such as MuchMusic and

Facebook video page post ads.

Over 2,000 wild postings posted on construction hoardings throughout the GTA. 

Indoor campus murals within Toronto schools including Ryerson, Humber, George Brown, U of T, Sheridan and Seneca.

b) Creative Discussion

Our aim to attract youth with a Halloween-inspired campaign lead to a fresh take on the Zombie phenomenon. Admittedly, Zombies are a familiar advertising device, having appeared in several other campaigns. But the continuing intense popularity of THE WALKING DEAD and talks of Brad Pitt’s WORLD WAR Z suggested to us there was still plenty of life in the genre. As long as we could create an original spin, and raise the stakes.

As stated, the campaign's anchor was the Youtube film. The powerful script attracted Vinenzo Natali, a director of cult horror classics like CUBE, SPLICE, and GINGER SNAPS. His involvement secured other leading production talents in Hollywood, Europe and Toronto, creating a film that, in spite of a small budget, was Hollywood-calibre. It held nothing back in its tale of a woman who, fleeing a Zombie apocalypse, suffers a heart attack. The delicious twist comes when the Zombies use Hands-Only CPR to bring her back to life, only to attack her again. By keeping the entertainment values high, we were able to walk the viewer through the 3 Steps of doing Hands-Only CPR, without fearing we would lose their interest.

The final cut was three minutes long. We knew this was asking the viewer to spend an inordinate amount of time with our film, especially given that it was, essentially, still a PSA. But we trusted that the violence, epic special effects and sly humour would play to raunchy young tastes. Indeed, the opening scenes, in which the familiar Toronto cityscape is laid waste, proved to be a compelling hook. One interesting production note is that the lead Zombie is actually the film world’s first all-CGI creation.

We teased the film with transit posters that created an all-important tone of impending dread and intrigue, proclaiming ‘THE UNDEADING IS NIGH’, with just the microsite address. We invaded Nuit Blanche, Toronto's all-night art festival, on September 29, one week before launch, partnering with hundreds of participants in the popular annual Toronto Zombie Walk. These ‘walking dead’ handed out bloody cloth scraps with the microsite address. At, we began a countdown to October 4, when we launched the Zombie outbreak with a live showing of the three-minute film at Dundas Square. Thousands turned out for the film premiere, and the countdown to the 'apocalypse' was on.

Certainly, no one can guarantee that a Youtube film will go viral. But THE UNDEADING became an overnight global phenomenon. Within hours of its release, it was at 20,000 views. It made the all-important front page of Mashable. Local news picked it up within days; then national; then international, including major outlets like CBS News, the Washington Post, Fast Company Magazine, and the U.K.’s prestigious Daily Mail. Heck, even radio DJ’s in the Philippines started talked about it. Here at home, the Globe and Mail, Toronto Star and National Post reported on its spreading success. The CBC’s George Strombolopoulos called it ‘The. Best. PSA. Ever.’ (His periods, not ours.)

In one week it hit 500,000 views. Space Network, a popular cable channel, aired the entire three-minute film for free on television, attracting yet more eyeballs to the cause. We were delighted when not one, but two film festivals shortly thereafter invited THE UNDEADING into their programs; Toronto’s After Dark festival, and HumanDoc, in Warsaw, Poland.

On the microsite, we introduced new tactics to keep the momentum going. We used Twitter to introduce new characters who developed the story of the Zombie Apocalypse into new directions. We recruited people with large pre-existing Twitter followings among gamers, horror film geeks, graphic novel fans and other youth sub-cultures. The premise was that these people, over the next three weeks, needed to make it from Dundas Square, where the outbreak happened, to what we called the 'Safe Zone' at Canada’s Wonderland. They used Twitter to update their progress in the most colourful, dramatic terms.

On the site, we also released a series of four ‘making of’ videos for the film’s rapidly growing fan base, and a web-based graphic novel based on the film. These tactics all encouraged people to sign up for the training event.

In terms of tone, everything was done as if was really happening. There was no nudge-and-a- wink; no attempt to let people in on the joke. Rather, we knew that by playing the drama and horror straight up, both with the film and the social media communications, we would more deeply engage our young audience.

c) Media Discussion

The paid media spend was $30,000. This was invested in a short three-week window in October.

The transit shelters, campus murals and wild postings were served as teasers pre-campaign starting in early October. They simply said ‘The Undeading is Nigh’ and drove traffic to the microsite.

The online banner ads also drove traffic to the microsite, rather than attempting to tell the whole story. As the campaign unfolded, and we neared the event at Wonderland, the banner ads became more tactical, inviting people to join the training and receive free admission to Wonderland's Halloween Haunt.

The Facebook video page post ads followed the same approach, and allowed Facebook users to share and comment about THE UNDEADING event. This medium reached over 1.2 million Facebook users within our demographic over the three-week campaign.

These were the paid media channels we could control, and predict. The unexpected boost to the campaign came with all the media coverage. Heart&Stroke personnel were interviewed by media across Ontario, expanding on the CPR story, extending the campaign’s reach, and having an opportunity to invite people out to the training session. 

a) Sales/Share Results

5020 people were trained in CPR in one day. Incredibly, it normally takes 3 years to train that many people. Beyond this milestone, the awareness of the importance of CPR training was firmly on the radar of Canada's youth during the 4 weeks from campaign launch to the event at Wonderland. 

This meant that a new, younger cohort was now aware of the Heart&Stroke Foundation as an organization that spoke their language.

Thanks to the global media coverage, 90 million people around the world heard of our campaign, and – more importantly – CPR training.

Just as important, the campaign energized another crucial audience – the trainers and administrators responsible for conducting CPR training sessions. Thanks to the buzz over THE UNDEADING, and the fact that it made training ‘cool’, November training events in smaller communities outside the GTA enjoyed more attendance than ever. Local trainers used THE UNDEADING film to attract a new audience. Through November 2012, an additional 3,000 people were trained in CPR, bringing the total number of people trained to over 8,000. (Compare this to a total of 700 in 2011.)

THE UNDEADING film continues to enjoy new views to this day. The film is at 1 million views on one YouTube channel alone. (Other unauthorized Youtube channels created by groups from as far away as Japan also have tens of thousands of views.)

The success of such an integrated campaign reinforced Heart & Stroke as a leader in CPR training and from that, health and wellness in general. 

b) Consumption/ Usage Results

c) Other Pertinent Results

d) Return on Investment

a) General Discussion

If THE UNDEADING campaign had never launched, 5020 people wouldn't have received live training, carrying with them this life-saving skill for the rest of their days. Nor would an additional 3,000 people have received training through November.

90 million people would not have heard of CPR training via the YouTube film and its attendant critical and media acclaim. 

b) Excluding Other Factors
Spending Levels:

The spending behind THE UNDEADING represented an increase in budget over 2011. In 2011, Heart&Stroke Foundation spent $15,000 in total, promoting smaller, community-based CPR training events across the province. In 2012, Heart&Stroke Foundation invested $30,000 in paid media, and $100,000 in production.


This isn't a factor, as CPR awareness-level training sessions to the general public are normally free, with the costs (kits, instructor time, etc.) offset by the Heart&Stroke Foundation. (There are separate full-certification courses geared toward anyone with a 'duty to act', such as First Responders, doctors, caregivers, and lifeguards, and there is a cost to attend these trainings.)

Distribution Changes:

CPR training has always been available across the province. 

Unusual Promotional Activity:

The only change in promotional activity compared to 2011 and previous years, was THE UNDEADING campaign itself. 

Other Potential Causes:

There are no other potential causes for the dramatic increase in CPR training and increase in awareness that resulted from this campaign.