St John Ambulance kill off a cancer survivor to promote first aid
Like 50/50 with an unexpected and horribly tragic ending, St John Ambulance and BBH highlight that 140,000 people’s lives – the same number that are lost to cancer annually – could be saved each year if more of us knew first aid, by cruelly killing off a cancer survivor in their new advert.
The poor bastard goes through the shock of diagnosis, shares the devastating news with his family, endures lengthy and painful treatment and, ultimately, battles his way to a slow, gruelling recovery to finally beat the Big C, only to choke to death on a piece of meat at a barbecue whilst his family and friends look on, completely helpless to his plight.
It’s a genuinely shocking and upsetting dénouement to what, for 90% of its 2-minute running time, you are fairly certain is going to be a hard-to-watch but ultimately truthful, honest and celebratory piece of work.
I really disliked the ad when I first saw it because it felt manipulative and unnecessarily exploitative of the plight of cancer patients to promote another cause. Having re-visited it a few times since, it’s because director Benito Montorio, of Blink Productions, portrays the diagnosis, treatment and ultimate recovery so convincingly, that you are then completely appalled that a person who has survived cancer can go on to die such a needless and entirely preventable death.
It’s really distressing and unnerving to think that something like this could happen to someone you love dearly, and that no one would know what to do to save them. Which is entirely the point.