Santa Claus is not a picture of glowing good health. Before political correctness muscled in, he was called at and jolly. But there is nothing jolly about a heart attack so he is the perfect choice to be the face of FCB Health Europe’s campaign for Heart Research UK, that aims to keep people a little safer this Christmas from something other than Covid – heart disease. Santa does everything worng. His job is stressful, his diet is poor, his exercise irregular and his fondness for mince pies puts him at dangerously high risk on Christmas Eve.
He is not alone. Research from the UK and Sweden has shown that Christmas can put a huge strain on our hearts, with approximately a 37% increase in heart attack risk on Christmas Eve, and a 15% average increase throughout the festive period. Seasonal changes in the northern hemisphere (we’re a little luckier downunder) and the rise in contagious illnesses including influenza can contribute to a person’s risk of cardiovascular disease, and it’s especially dangerous for those already leading an unhealthy lifestyle.
The campaign, A Healthy Heart Christmas’– a new campaign is designed to raise awareness of the risk of heart disease in winter. The campaign features hand-painted illustrations of classic Christmas scenes, but with a sobering twist. Amid the tinsel, tree and twinkling lights, Santa is shown clutching his chest and collapsing to the floor, experiencing the devastating effects of a heart attack.
In 2019/20 in the UK, there were 6,661 excess winter deaths due to cardiovascular disease which included 2,820 deaths due to coronary heart disease. In addition to this, research from Sweden found that the risk of myocardial infarction increased by 15% over the Christmas and New Year period, peaking at 37% on Christmas Eve.
The awareness campaign is running online, across social media, and in print, to drive awareness of heart health this holiday.
And in the spirit of keeping Santa’s heart healthy, the campaign has partnered with Thortful, the UK’s largest online card marketplace, to create a set of limited-edition Christmas cards showing the festive scenes restored to how they should look, with Santa as his usual merry self, delivering presents all across town. Proceeds from sales of the cards will go towards funding Heart Research UK’s lifesaving work, so buying the cards will hopefully help more people (like the Santa on the cards) have a happy Christmas in the future.
Finally, BAFTA-winning actor and Line of Duty star, Mark Bonnar, has lent his voice to a special twist on the iconic Christmas poem ‘A Visit from St. Nicholas’, in a the radio part of the campaign, encouraging people to visit Heart Research UK’s website and donate.
“Christmas is a special time of year when we can all let our hair down and over-indulge a little and the aim of this campaign is to merely remind everyone that moderation is a good thing. Eating healthily, exercising, and taking care of ourselves can sometimes take a back seat over the Christmas period and therefore we are just reminding people that striking a good balance is the key to a happy and healthy Christmas. Our campaign aims to draw attention to the impact of not taking care of our health, with a familiar face at the helm. We don’t want to shock or upset people but to educate and inform, at Christmas and all year round,” stated Kate Bratt-Farrar, chief executive at Heart Research UK.
Donations may be made on the Heart Research UK website, where people can also access a range of useful tips and guidance on how to take care of their heart and make little changes to their lifestyle and diet over the holidays.
The range of limited-edition Heart Research UK Christmas cards may be bought here with all proceeds supporting Heart Research UK.
Client: Heart Research UK
Client team: Tom Smith & Joan McGregor
Agency: FCB Health Europe
President: Jörg Hempelmann
Executive Creative Directors: David Prater & Jamie MacCarthy-Morrogh
Associate Creative Director: Christian Louzado
Senior Copywriter: Simon Wood
Client Service Director: Philippa Crabb
Director PR & Communications: Jerome Cholet
Account Executive: Siya Amin
Design Director: Simon Robinson
Senior Designer: Kristian Binks
Creative Resources Director: Shanie Connard
 Erlinge, David et al. (2018): “Christmas, national holidays, sport events, and time factors as triggers of acute myocardial infarction: SWEDEHEART observational study 1998-2013”, in: British Medical Journal, https://www.bmj.com/content/363/bmj.k4811