“Sick is not weak!” screams the harrowing new video from SickKids Hospital

Warning: this new video from Toronto’s SickKids Hospital will simultaneously break your heart and make you want to get up and fight. Fight for the babies and kids who aren’t getting a fair chance at a healthy life, who are too sick to fight for themselves.

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It opens with a thumping beat, shots of children and doctors donning gear as if readying for battle. The words “Sick is not weak” flash in fluoro across the screen.

This is Toronto SickKids Hopsital’s new video campaign, and it’s unlike any children’s hospital ad we’ve ever seen before.

SickKids is legendary when it comes to changing the message to drive donations. Two years ago, it ran 45 mini-documentaries, each profiling an everyday moment in a child’s stay at the hospital – scenes from a 17-year-old’s heart surgery, a child with a rare immune deficiency overcoming pain and doing his therapy exercises. The tagline at the end of each ad read, “Help make their tomorrow as good as your today.”

The emotional campaign helped the hospital raise $37 million in December 2014 alone.

Growth though didn’t come from new donors, and with the new campaign, the hospital is trying to access a pool of previously untapped money.

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Lori Davison, Vice President of Brand Strategy told The Globe and Mail, “The size of the pie is not changing in Canada, in terms of philanthropy. Our opportunity to grow our share is by tapping into new audiences … We’re not going to get to a new level of giving … by reminding people of what they already know.”

The video certainly shows viewers something new. It emulates a Nike ad, where athletes prepare for competition, and deftly combines scenes of childish imagination with the horrible reality of childhood illness.

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The scene of a child smashing a dialysis machine with a bat has you ready to fight to help save him from kidney failure. The scene of a mother in scrubs in an operating room, desperately clutching the hand of her crying baby will reduce you to tears.

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The ride is incredibly emotional, intense and effective. It acknowledges the fighting spirit needed to help hospitals like Toronto SickKids, and it pays tribute to the kids who were lost in the battle.

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