American Heart Association takes 'hands-on' approach to life-saving

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The American Heart Association next week will launch a viral video called “Hand-walker,” which follows a man walking through a New York neighborhood on his hands. The video is part of an ongoing effort by the nonprofit to build awareness for the hands-only CPR technique, a two-step process that does not include mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

The overall effort, launched in partnership with the Ad Council on October 28, prepares bystanders to help when someone collapses in cardiac arrest. New York agency Gotham handled the creative and Web design pro bono.

The tagline of the TV, radio, Web and mobile campaign is “Hands can do incredible things, even save a life.” On-air spot “Sign Language” was distributed to about 33,000 media outlets nationwide at the end of last month. The ad drives viewers to HandsOnlyCPR.org for more information.

Visitors to the microsite can also download a free instructional app for their smartphones that teaches the technique.

“A mobile application really makes sense for this particular issue,” said Heidi Arthur, SVP for campaigns at the Ad Council. “When you think about how people live with taking their mobile phones everywhere, it is a comfort they will have access to instruction at anytime.”

The Web site also includes an online tool, "Hands Symphony," that allows visitors to use virtual on-screen "hands" to create original music and send it to their friends. Digital marketing agency Fanscape is working to extend the messaging through online banner ads and social media, as well.

“There is a dramatic age range, we had to have the campaign be multifaceted,” said Peter McGuinness, CEO of Gotham. “We wanted it to appeal to different age groups because while cardiac arrest affects a certain set — generally those over 55 — anyone can be a bystander.”

At a minimum, the Ad Council will work on a three-year initiative with the American Heart Association, Arthur added.

“We'll go back in a year and refresh it based on the results,” she said. “We will look at the post-wave tracking study to see if we got the engagement with the Web site we were looking for and how many people downloaded the mobile application.”

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