We recently completed a new awareness campaign for The Irish Heart Foundation, seeking to dispel myths and correctly inform the public on the critical issue of Heart Failure. As one of the most misunderstood heart-related terms, it primarily impacts people over 50, with previous heart issues that have either being diagnosed or have gone undetected but whose symptoms tend not to create much concern. The scary details are that an estimated 90,000 people in Ireland are living with the condition and 95% of those are entirely unaware of the key symptoms!
The term heart failure is used to describe a heart which is not working as well as it should. For most of us though, it tends to suggest the end of the line; the truth though is that the heart is not about to stop. It does mean paying attention to symptoms such as shortness of breath, swollen ankles and fatigue as these may be the warning signs that the heart is underperforming and a visit to the doctor is needed. The challenge therefore is this; how do you engage the public, without scaremongering building awareness of the terms and paying attention to the warning signs?
For all of our lives we’ve been exposed to warning signs of one type or another. We know they’re for our health and safety and typically we pay attention to them. The warning signs laid the foundation for the campaign, both its message and visual language. The three main symptoms of heart failure are presented as warning signs, encased in red triangles, with the message identifying the relationship between symptom and disease.
The initial launch of the campaign was delivered through a dedicated landing page on the Irish Heart Foundation website, promoted through display advertising on national news sites and preemptive literature and posters released to all GPs and healthcare facilities around the country. This was followed by a run of radio ads on select stations, targeting the preferred demographic.
The campaign also leveraged the real-life story of Michael Lyster, the iconic presenter of GAA sports, and his experiences with heart failure. Recognising that someone as prominent as Michael can suffer from a condition such as this injects a strong dose of realism and a better awareness of heart failure and its symptoms, making it a less harsh pill to swallow.