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Ad campaign moves from death to quality of life

Death loves you.

That has been the message that has driven greater awareness for the Heart & Stroke Foundation of Canada for the past year. Now, the organization is adjusting its message slightly with a new campaign that, instead of its now well-known slogan "Make Death Wait," tells viewers to "Make Health Last."

The new ad released this week shows a stark split-screen image of one man's parallel lives: one in which his past 10 years are spent in health, and one in which those same years are passed in sickness.

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The striking commercial is the latest work for the foundation by Toronto-based agency Lowe Roche, and follows the early success of its new marketing approach.

In 2011, according to the association's research, Canadians had grown blasé about heart disease and stroke, seeing it as a treatable disease. And awareness of the Heart and Stroke Foundation was down compared to other charities such as the Red Cross and the Canadian Cancer Society. That year it launched its "Make Death Wait" campaign – a dark set of ads that used death as the main character, reminding people that it was coming.

It was a tough sell to the foundation's board of directors, who tend to be cautious. Some challenged the idea initially. But the success of the campaign was a case for this second phase: Between the launch of "Make Death Wait" in October of 2011 and April, 2012, the foundation received more than $2-million in donations, exceeding targets by $130,000. It also drove 113,300 Canadians to conduct "risk assessments" of their own health. Last week, these results helped to award the campaign a silver in the "Off to a Good Start" category at the Cassies advertising awards in Toronto.

The new campaign drives to a website with risk assessments, health tips, and a donation link. The shift represents phase two of the campaign; now that the foundation has reminded Canadians to fight death, it is pushing a message focused on quality of life.

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