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Big C: At the Heart of the Matter

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Almost every hour, a child with congenital heart disease is born in Thailand. That’s roughly 8,000 children per year. 

Of those born with heart defects, half of them heal naturally over time but the other half require surgery in order to prolong life. Unsurprisingly, most of these children are born into economically challenged families and their parents are unable to pay for these life-saving surgeries. The costs of these surgeries are usually subsidised by The Cardiac Children Foundation of Thailand mainly through contributions.

Roughly 50 million baht ($1.4 million) is required every year, on average, to perform 2,500 surgeries. That’s $555 per surgery. However, donations were 50% well short of the target this year with the received aids, enough to only perform 1,250 surgeries thus far.

Big C Supercenters, Thailand’s second largest retailer, which operates under the ethos of ‘At the heart of our business, are our customers’, identified this problem and wanted to tackle it seriously.

The Problem: Awareness of children with congenital heart disease in Thailand is extremely low. Unless you consistently raise and sustain the awareness of this seemingly invisible disease, people just didn’t know about it.

Symptoms of CHD include rapid heartbeats, short of breath, fatigue and most critically, their bodies don’t develop properly like normal children. Normal activities like cycling, swimming, even walking; things that normal people take for granted, are literally a distant ‘dream’.

The Challenge was how to raise both the awareness of CHD and the required donations at the same time?


The target for this campaign was primarily the 4.5 million loyal Big C customers nationwide aged 25-44 years old. It wasn’t enough. Big C wanted to gain wider reach by targeting similar demographics on digital who were interested in family-and-parenting-related content in particular. By doing so, Big C was able to capture six million online users with this mindset, representing almost 40% of the total 25-44 year-old population nationwide.

Consumer Insight: Finding the linkage between brands and the heart of consumers.

A study by Video Research revealed that a sizeable chunk of the target group was already charitable at heart. Having already started a family themselves, or contemplating one, charity was an issue that deeply resonated with them. Big C established that of the ‘charitable consumers’ who interacted with any branded CSR initiative, 53% claim to successfully learn something new about the program. This implied that an educational program was needed to stimulate the target about CHD. Research also showed that 41% of the target audience would donate to a worthy charity and 44% would socially declare their support to spread the awareness.

Communication Strategy: Listen to the heart of the problem. Literally.

Big C realised that people’s understandings of CHD and its symptoms were low. So agency UM needed to present those symptoms ‘physically’ to the public, in a way that would potentially shed light on a problem never understood before and create the necessary impact needed to bring about further action. In order to do this, it needed to make these children be heard; not only through their voices, but through their hearts.

Through connecting the main target with these children who were unintentionally kept in the dark, this unlocked a sense of realisation never revealed before and spurred both conversational and behavioural reactions that permeated from social media to the hypermarkets.


Big C created The World’s First Huggable Media.

Through the campaign idea of “Hug to hear my heart”, 100 children with CHD were invited to participate in this heart-warming campaign. These children were stationed in key public places, including flagship Big C stores in and around Bangkok, next to a sign which read “I have big dreams. But it will never be fulfilled. Hug me to find out why”.

It was a simple but powerful message that engaged passers-by and induced positive reactions. They hugged these children, listened to their heartbeats to grasp the severity of those symptoms.

But it was logistically impossible to get six million people to hug 100 children.

So the message was spread.

The activation-led digital campaign was filmed, edited and amplified throughout the digital space to gain mass reach. Interviews of these children were also incorporated into the video clip to educate the target about their pain and daily struggles.

Opal Panisara, one of Thailand’s most famous and influential female TV hosts, and her celebrity husband who coincidentally is a medical doctor, whose child suffered from CHD (successfully treated), became the spokespersons. She endorsed this campaign and her band of celebrity friends joined the movement.

The clip was placed on YouTube and Facebook, with the media budget allocated 65% and 35% respectively. The higher weight on the former because Thais tend to watch long form content here (2.29 hours/day average daily). Facebook induces a higher sharing behaviour and has the highest media consumption (2.77 hours/day).



As of the 5th of December 2016, on a budget of only $35,000 (and still exhausting) the campaign has been able to deliver 27,560,458 total impressions so far. Of which, total views have reached 5,099,365 on YouTube, 8.1% of which was completely organic. Whereas, the clip posted on Facebook has garnered 4,582,775 views with 22% being organic.

The viewing completion rate for both platforms have been phenomenal. It achieved 347% and 320% above industry rates for YouTube and Facebook respectively for sponsored video clips.


The campaign successfully drove people to the donation boxes at all of Big C’s 597 branches nationwide and people contributed their fair share.

As targeted, the campaign has managed to raise exactly 25 million baht ($694,000) sufficient to operate on 1,250 children. However, with the campaign set to run throughout the end of 2016, it is set to surpass the targeted amount.

In a media culture where the majority of video clips elicit negative and highly aroused sad emotions, Big C was able to do the opposite, striking the right positive chord and bringing about tangible actions; the ones that literally heal broken hearts and changes children’s lives for the better.

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