M&C Saatchi has created an uplifting 60-second TV ad as part of a campaign to help NHS England get more people completing their bowel cancer screening process.

The problem that needs solving is that many of the roughly 4.5 million people who are sent a bowel cancer screening kit to use at home each year fail to follow through and provide a sample for testing.

The hero spot, “Ribbon dancer”, grabs viewers’ attention with the Sammy Davis Jr anthem I’ve Got to Be Me (with a touch of black humour in the opening line “I want to live, not merely survive”).

It holds it with the surreal sight of a middle-aged man cavorting around his home and garden in a display of ribbon dancing, as seen in rhythmic gymnastics, but improvised using a roll of toilet paper.

A series of quick cuts depict the completion of the bowel cancer screening kit, before a voiceover instructs the audience, “Your next poo could save your life. If you’re sent a bowel cancer screening kit, put it by the loo. Don’t put it off.”

The TV ad was created by copywriter Amy Parkhill and art director Ed East and directed by Si&Ad for Academy Films.

The campaign also includes video on demand, search, social, online video and community radio, with media planning by Wavemaker and media buying by OmniGov.

Guy Bradbury, creative partner at M&C Saatchi London, said: “To remind people who have been invited to take the bowel cancer test next time they go to the loo, we wanted to create a campaign that was distinctive, memorable and joyous.”

Phil Bastable, deputy director, head of marketing and social media team, NHS England, said the campaign “addresses a serious, sensitive issue in an engaging and memorable way”.

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