You may already know that here at The Gate, we really love a challenge. Well, “let’s boost morale for the NHS” was arguably one of the bigger challenges we’ve faced, proposed to The Gate CEO Simon Lewis by three junior doctors back in autumn 2015.
As always, we rose to the challenge, and through a weird but wonderful series of events, we helped Lewisham and Greenwich NHS choir beat Justin Bieber to the official number one spot in the charts for Christmas 2015!
The Gate was truly honoured to help a collaborative pro bono campaign in support of the selfless staff that make up our NHS - a cause still very close to our hearts today.
We started with a social media campaign
At the time, the NHS was considering strike action over the contracted hours of junior doctors. In order to raise awareness of hardworking NHS staff and provide a morale boost for departments under pressure, we collaborated with One Minute Briefs to generate ideas that would lift staff at Christmas, the busiest time of year for many hospitals and clinics.
Hundreds of ideas were shared in just 24 hours, and with over 100,000 Facebook shares, #IDO was selected as the winning entry. Freelance creative Steve Hunter suggested that just like marriage vows, it may be high time for people to renew their relationship with the NHS.
The initial social media campaign asked people to share selfies with a sign reading ‘I DO’ and the hashtag #loveyourNHS. Celebrities soon joined in, including the likes of Manchester United footballer Luke Shaw, film star Michael Sheen and singer Jessie Ware. As a result, the campaign reached over 500,000 people on Facebook and 150,000 on Twitter in two days.
Then we brought in audio visual content
Lewisham and Greenwich NHS choir was releasing ‘A bridge over you’ (a mashup of Simon and Garfunkel’s Bridge Over Troubled Water and Coldplay’s Fix You) as a Christmas charity single, and we wanted to utilise the momentum building from the social media campaign.
So, The Gate filmed the video for choir's charity single, shooting scenes at the Lewisham and Greenwich hospital to really convey the true importance of the NHS. Take a look – be warned, it’s a tearjerker.
Boosting morale at the NHS was a team effort
In true Christmas spirit, we were very thankful for many well-wishers – and for a little help from Bieber himself.
More local companies stepped in to help out. Macclesfield-based Big Brand Ideas set up the campaign website, and iProspect Manchester donated personal time to help gain new digital audiences. Music PR specialists Scream Promotions then arranged for the NHS Choir to sing live on Chris Evans’ BBC Radio 2 morning show, the most popular show on UK radio.
The song was available for download from the 18th December, and soon the NHS Choir was competing with Justin Bieber for the highly competitive Christmas UK number one spot.
Then the unexpected happened - Bieber tweeted his support for the NHS Choir, asking his 47 million fans to "do the right thing" and download the song, explaining "for one week it's OK not to be number one."
Can you guess what happened next?
• The choir clinched the Christmas number one spot, 30,000 copies ahead of Bieber
• Combined chart sales of over 127,000 copies in total
• The video was played on Top of the Pops directly before the Queen’s Speech
• The choir sang live on Chris Evans BBC2 breakfast radio show
• Proceeds from single sales benefitted charities including Carers UK and Mind
"It’s strange to find yourself in the middle of a media storm – at Christmas no less,” explained The Gate CEO Simon Lewis.
"It’s also strange to see a small idea, developed with crowdfunding and with passion, become a big campaign. No – a huge campaign. And a brush with the biggest star in the world, Justin Bieber."
“I also believe in the power of the creative advertising industry for good, not just selling things. Just like the NHS we have one of the best systems in the world. If we can’t help spread a message, who can?”