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Last Laugh

Last Laugh | IAPC - Indian Association of Palliative Care | Medulla
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Industry: Public interest & Non-profit
Media:Promotion & Event
Style: Minimalism

Brand background: IAPC’s ‘Last Words’ campaign in 2016 built awareness on palliative care but there was an opportunity to further drive palliative care access from 1% in 2015.Cultural Background: Talking about death is taboo in India. Problem: Even the terminally ill and their families or doctors don’t discuss death. Let alone use palliative care to make the last days comfortable. In fact, the Economist Intelligence Unit in 2015 ranked India's end-of-life care last among 40 countries, giving a score of 2/5 in public awareness, attributing it partly to reluctance to openly discuss death.Objective: To increase palliative care access by breaking the taboo on discussing death.Challenges: 1. Difficult to break an ingrained cultural taboo. 2. Low budgets, needing to rely on virality, media partnerships and PR–a tough task for a campaign on death.3. Needed to drive palliative care, not just acceptance of death.

To break the taboo, we had to start conversations with the terminally ill, their families and doctors, staying away from traditional advertising formats. Thus, the show with its coverage became our campaign. PR strategy: Used India’s best stand-up comedians and medical opinion leaders to fuel the conversation.Target media: Feature-based, comedy/health-based programs. PR approach: The terminally ill laughing at death were the heroes of our campaign, creating one of the most iconic human-interest stories in Indian media. PR planning: The first stage was to take the shows themselves on mass media with one key partner each on TV, radio and online. This created some of the largest zero-cost media partnerships (other than entertainment) ever in India. And next, we amplified the campaign through PR outreach to all publications. Even at this stage, we worked deeply with publications, allowing each of them to add their own stamp to the story.

The campaign launched as the first live comedy show on Twitter, featuring our stand-up comedians. Leading Indian comedians joined organically. A special show for doctors on Facebook 360 Live was setup. Our medical opinion leaders and a zero-cost media partnership with India’s leading online Op-Ed platform ensured palliative care was part of the conversation. The digital campaign allowed us to build zero-cost media partnerships so the show aired as a week-long special on India’s #1 radio network – complete with promos, RJ interviews, and studio performances – and a 30-minute show on India’s leading television news network hosted by their resident comedy anchor.The next step was mass PR outreach, working deeply with each publication – so some journalists added clown noses to the terminally ill, some tracked a day in their lives and some just broke down live in the studio.

In a country where even talking about death is taboo, the terminally ill performed a series of stand-up comedy shows. The shows with their recordings and coverage became our campaign.To break the taboo, we had to start conversations, staying away from traditional advertising formats. So, all mass media presence came through PR – whether it was a 30-minute TV show, or a week-long radio special, a 3-minute coverage on BBC World News, or the front pages of India’s biggest newspapers. Eventually, we earned >$3mn of media, spending only $4,500 in paid media to seed virality.

The campaign trended #1 all-India on Twitter, #3 on YouTube, went viral on Facebook with 36,000 shares, inspired India’s largest zero-cost media partnerships (other than entertainment), made it to the front pages of India’s leading newspapers, aired as a full television show and a week-long radio special, and even received global coverage on BBC World News.Garnering over 3 million dollars of earned media, 300 million impressions, 3 million video views. And reaching 80% Indian doctors. Audience outcomes: The campaign set out to break a taboo and ended up changing culture. Seeing the terminally ill laugh at death, Indians questioned our ingrained fear of discussing death, and palliative care truly entered the Indian lexicon. This is reflected across social media comments. Business outcomes:Palliative care enquiries to IAPC increased five-fold. More doctors have taken training to discuss death with patients in six weeks than in the last three years.

We met the terminally ill and their families through the IAPC network and unearthed the insight: Palliative care helps people accept death, even laugh about it. This led to the idea of the Last Laugh – A stand-up comedy show performed by the terminally ill to break the taboo. Palliative care counselors and India’s best comedians joined hands to screen, train and support these patients. The shows with their recordings and coverage became our campaign.Using comedy to discuss death resolved several challenges: Comedy, coming from these patients, could demonstrate that palliative care helps the terminally ill get comfortable with death, even joke about it. Comedy, coming from these patients, could break the taboo – if these patients staring at death can joke about it, then why can’t it be discussed. And importantly, comedy is trending, making comedians the strongest PR influencers.
Chief Creative Officer:
Production Company:
Other credit:Entrant Company: MEDULLA COMMUNICATIONS, Mumbai, India
Managing Director, Praful Akali, Medulla Communications Pvt. Ltd.
Group Copy Head, Mihir Chitre, Medulla Communications Pvt. Ltd.
Senior Consultant, Consumer healthcare, Rekha Hindlekar, Medulla Communications Pvt. Ltd.
Sr Specialist, Planning, Shifra Baviskar, Medulla Communications Pvt. Ltd.
Film Production Lead, Saurabh Pal, Medulla Communications Pvt. Ltd.
NA, Kunal Kamra, Independent
Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity 2017
Silver Pharma
Disease Awareness & Education
Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity 2017
Silver Pharma
Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity 2017
Shortlist Pharma
Disease Awareness & Education
Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity 2017
Shortlist PR
Healthcare & Wellbeing
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