Billboard Saves Man’s Life


A sixty six year old English man has credited clever design with saving his life.

Along his route home is a large billboard sporting an advertisement for the British Heart Foundation. Driving past the billboard and remembering it’s message was what prompted Alec Keep to dial 999 after experiencing severe chest pain. 999 is the UK equivalent to North America’s 911 system and immediate medical attention is what saved his life. Upon evaluation by a paramedic and immediate transportation to the hospital Mr. Keep’s heart stopped and needed to be restarted. He eventually received a quadruple bi-pass operation and has sworn to abandon his previously unhealthy lifestyle leading up to this event.

Heart Attack Billboard

He continually credits the Heart Foundation billboard for encouraging him to make that life saving call. The billboard was designed as part of a marketing campaign by the British Heart Foundation after studies had shown that most people who suffer from heart attacks die before reaching help. Most of these 250,000 cases last year were caused by people adopting a “wait and see” attitude which typically resulted in casualties seeing a bright white light rather than flashing lights.

From a design perspective, this billboard is painfully well done. The uncomfortable sensation it provides even when you aren’t having heart problems is strong enough to make the skin tightening, nipple twisting pain of a heart attack not hard to imagine. The design of the human flesh belt is such an relevant image and is professionally executed with realistic effects. Expressive photography with black and red used in the ad are also powerful elements that provide emotion to the piece.

Having evidence to suggest that calls to 999 about heart attacks have increased since this campaign was launched, it seems that this kind of breathtaking design is just what the doctor ordered for people who are having second thoughts about seeking first aid.