It may not be love

viral awareness campaign

A few months ago, we asked our Twitter followers to give us their opinion of a video concept Redbird’s president, Carol Vincent, had developed for the Heart and Stroke Foundation of BC & Yukon. Would it be offensive to use humour in a message about the warning signs of stroke? Was it too obscure? Was it the kind of thing people would pass along? The response was favourable, and our client took a leap of faith.

Today, to mark the launch of ‘Stroke Month’ across Canada, the Foundation has released the video and begun promoting it on social media.

Here’s the inside story on the making of It May Not Be Love…

The concept

Spoiler alert! At first glance, the video appears to be a love song – until the music is interrupted by a doctor who informs viewers that the singer’s physical symptoms (sudden weakness, difficulty speaking, vision problems, severe headache, loss of balance) are not caused by love – in fact she’s having a stroke. As paramedics arrive and bundle the singer, still singing, into an ambulance, the doctor reiterates the signs of stroke, and the need to call 9-1-1 immediately.

Jokes aside, many stroke victims don’t make full recoveries simply because they don’t recognize the warning signs of stroke, and wait too long to call 9-1-1. There have been cases of stroke victims going to work, attending social functions, and in one case, completing a triathlon after experiencing a stroke, all the while attributing their symptoms to other causes.

The execution

For time and cost-effectiveness, videographer Tony Moskal recommended having performers lip-synch to pre-recorded music, rather than filming a live performance. Working with lyrics and a rough melody provided by Redbird, Peter Clarke at GGRP in Vancouver created a funky arrangement for keyboard, drum, and bass, and Jo Gyurkovics laid down some great vocals. (She was also able to come to the Island for the shoot, which simplified the lip-synch issues.) Meg at GGRP gave us a sweetheart deal on the music production.

For scheduling efficiency we shot the exterior scene first. The British Columbia Ambulance Service provided an ambulance and two experienced paramedics (Bill and Paul) and Digiheadz crew Sue and Chase readied the site and equipment. Redbird’s Production Coordinator Amy Schumacher looked after wardrobe and makeup, and our intern Alison King filled in where needed, including on camera. Although it was cold and windy, it didn’t rain, and we were grateful for the warm room provided by the Maritime Museum. Thanks also to Starbucks for donating urns of coffee and hot chocolate, and to the City of Victoria for waiving the parking fees.

The next day we gathered at Logan’s Pub for the interior music shots. Redbird’s own graphic designer Matt Johnson and copywriter James Mulvey (both musicians) filled two seats in the band, ‘playing’ the drums and stand-up bass, and Simon Margetts made it a trio. A crowd of volunteer extras made up the audience (Thanks Jason, Craig, Michael, Cynthia, Brianna, Kyle, Anil, Ryan, Barb, Aislinn, and Sean! Although lights were dim and fame is fleeting, your assistance was much appreciated.) Thanks also to Country Grocer in Royal Oak for providing refreshments.

We shared an unexpected and touching moment when John Logan, the former owner of the pub, told us that he had suffered a stroke a year and a half ago, but because he got to the hospital right away he made a quick recovery and is “back riding my horses” today. Thanks to John and his son for the use of their premises.

The doctor’s scene was filmed in the studio on green screen so that he could be superimposed over previously shot footage. Thanks to Dr. Evan Adams, Aboriginal Health Physician Advisor for the Province of BC and an experienced actor, who did a great job for us and also waived his ACTRA fees as a donation to the cause. (The video qualifies as a PSA under ACTRA regulations.)

With some input from the target demographic (thanks Dave, Shane, and Shane), and a few back and forths on editing, sound design, and special effects with Tony, the video was complete.

The promotion

It May Not Be Love is being officially released at the Legislative Buildings on Thursday June 2nd, as part of the launch of Stroke Month across Canada. The link will be sent to Heart and Stroke stakeholders and media, and will be promoted via Twitter, Facebook, and other social media.

Every year, more than 2,000 people in British Columbia die from stroke.  Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the province and the number-one cause of acquired long-term disability in adults. Calling 9-1-1 and seeking immediate medical attention can greatly improve those outcomes.

If you’d like to help us spread the word, we invite you to tweet, like, share, email, link to, or otherwise pass along

Carol Vincent