BHF to use humour in ads to encourage online sharing

The British Heart Foundation (BHF) is focusing its advertising strategy on humour in a bid to engage better with viewers actively seeking video content online.


The charity hopes the new approach to its advertising will educate supporters more effectively than employing shock tactics and make its ads standout more clearly against other charities.

According to Nils Leonard, chief creative officer at Grey Europe, the BHF’s ad agency, the amount of “bad things” happening in the world means that using shock tactics to communicate the charity’s message will not encourage people to share the ad with their friends.

He adds: “People want to look on the bright of side of life especially when they’re sharing content with friends. Charity advertisers are reluctant to invest in humour the way the BHF are. It’s challenging for charities to make an ad that makes people laugh for an issue like heart attacks than it is to make a scary piece of work that may offend a child”.

The new approach is being spearheaded by a TV spot fronted by British actor Vinnie Jones, which teaches viewers how to do heart resuscitation to the beat of the Bee Gees 1977 song, Stayin’ Alive.

Content from the campaign will be used in the charity’s training programme, which will feature additional footage from the TV spot.

The ad, which launched last week, has generated almost 1 million views online, according to Leonard.

Latest from Marketing Week


Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and opinion that will help you do your job better.

Register and receive the best content from the only UK title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work. The more we know about our visitors, the better and more relevant content we can provide for them. And, yes, knowing our audience better helps us find commercial partners too. Don't worry, we won't share your information with other parties, unless you give us permission to do so.

Register now


Our award winning editorial team (PPA Digital Brand of the Year) ask the big questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.


From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we are your guide.


Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3703 or email

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here