Heart Foundation encourages pulse checks in new campaign via dentsu Aotearoa

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Atrial Fibrillation (AF) is a condition which causes an irregular and often rapid heart rate. If the condition is not diagnosed it can lead to stroke and heart failure.


With AF disproportionately affecting our Māori and Pasifika communities, the Heart Foundation approached dentsu Aotearoa to develop a campaign which harnessed cultural and community insights to drive awareness and early detection within these priority populations, by getting people to take pulse checks.

The “Know Your Pulse. Know your Whakapapa” campaign takes inspiration from te poutokomanawa, the post that supports the heart of a whare. If the poutokomanawa is damaged, or falls, the impact on the wider whānau can be catastrophic.

The importance of knowing our pulse and connecting with our whakapapa is told through the lens of whakairo demonstrated by Master Carver, James Rickard, and through Pacific drumming by Choreographer, Kura Taruia. Both executions embrace the rhythmic beat prevalent in Māori and Pacific culture and storytelling.

dentsu sought cultural advice and worked with Heart Foundation chief advisor Māori Kataraina Davis to ensure the project was founded on te tūturutanga o te whakaaro (the integrity of knowledge). The team was also privileged to work with Joanna Bourke, executive creative director at CocoNew who provided valuable insights for executions aimed at the Pasifika community.

AF is a condition that it is more common as we get older, but it can strike adults at any age. The campaign can play out across many touchpoints, from engaging with GPs to getting into workplaces and communities, but in the current environment it’s centered on a media effort to engage with older Māori and Pasifika and their whānau.

Says Brian Scott, head of marketing and communications at the Heart Foundation: “Right from the beginning, we knew we needed to address the issue of undiagnosed AF differently to be able to engage and speak to Māori and Pasifika audiences. We’re very proud of the new work and it was a privilege to work with dentsu and all those who contributed advice and insight to help bring it to life.”

Says Murray Streets, managing director, dentsu creative: “It was important to us all to do this work the right way. That meant engaging with experts from those communities from the beginning and throughout, being led by their insights and guidance. We listened first with open minds and a willingness to learn. We’re excited with the feedback we’ve had from community healthcare providers and the resulting work.”

Says Brad Stratton, creative director at dentsu: “The 30 seconds that it takes to check your pulse could add years on to your life. If we can get somebody taking that simple step, and on a path to diagnosis, that’s a huge win for them and their whānau.”

The campaign goes live from 4 April 2022.

Client: Heart Foundation

Agency: dentsu Aotearoa
Advisor: Joanna Bourke @ CocoNew
Production company: dentsu Prod
Photography: Nic Staveley @ International Rescue
DoP & Post: Steve Gulik @ The Post Office
Sound: Franklin Rd

Heart Foundation encourages pulse checks in new campaign via dentsu Aotearoa Heart Foundation encourages pulse checks in new campaign via dentsu Aotearoa