NHS England

Ribbon Dancer

Agency: M&C Saatchi


NHS England has launched a major new multichannel campaign to drive more people to complete the bowel cancer screening test when sent one. The push was developed in partnership with M&C Saatchi London.

As part of the NHS’ broader ambition to increase the proportion of all types of cancers being diagnosed early, the new campaign aims to boost participation in bowel cancer screening amongst those who get invited to take part.

Those who are eligible for bowel cancer screening receive a Faecal Immunochemical Test (or FIT) kit in the post once every two years, which enables them to quickly and easily take a poo sample at home, and to send it to the NHS for testing.

Most of the campaign’s target audience say they will complete the bowel cancer test when they receive one in the post, yet the latest data shows that almost one third of people who were sent an NHS bowel cancer screening kit in England last year did not go on to complete it. This can be due to a number of reasons, from feeling it’s unhygienic through to cultural taboos regarding taking a poo sample, as well as the incorrect assumption that if you don’t have any symptoms, there’s no need to test.

The key benefit of the test is that it can detect signs of cancer way before someone would ever notice any symptoms. Given that early-stage diagnosis of bowel cancer improves chances of survival by over 90%, it makes the test – and that tiny sample of poo – a life-saving opportunity. This led to M&C Saatchi’s creative thought: your next poo could save your life.

To ensure more people complete the bowel cancer test when they receive one, M&C Saatchi has developed a memorable hero TV spot, “Ribbon Dancer”, directed by Si&Ad at Academy Films. In the film, we see a man in his fifties getting up in the morning before he heads downstairs and takes a loo roll from a bag by the door. This is the moment inspiration strikes. He begins to unravel the paper before bursting into a graceful dance. Like a rhythmic gymnast, he uses the toilet paper as his ribbon. The display is a joyous celebration of life, choreographed to the tune of ‘I’ve got to be me’ by Sammy Davis Jr.

The man’s dance takes him around the house and out into the garden before eventually leading him to the privacy of his bathroom. A series of quick cuts depict the completion of the bowel cancer screening kit, before a voiceover instructs the audience, “If you’re sent a bowel cancer screening kit, put it by the loo. Don’t put it off.”

Along with TV, the integrated push also includes activity across video-on-demand, search, social, online video and community radio.

Currently around 4.5 million people are invited to take part in the NHS bowel cancer screening programme each year.

This professional campaign titled 'Ribbon Dancer' was published in United Kingdom in February, 2023. It was created for the brand: NHS England, by ad agency: M&C Saatchi. This Integrated medium campaign is related to the Health and Public Interest, NGO industries and contains 1 media asset. It was submitted 8 months ago by Owner: Julia Conroy of Julia Conroy Limited.


Creative agency: M&C Saatchi London

Creative Partner: Guy Bradbury

Creative Director: Tom Kennedy

Copywriter: Amy Parkhill

Art Director: Ed East

Agency Producer: Ashley Williams

Executive Producer: Gareth Williams

Senior Account Director: Tabby Powell-Tuck

Senior Account Manager: Emma Lowrey

Senior Strategist: Hannah Thomson

Head of Behaviour Change: Richard Storey

Client Partner: Angus Maclay

Directors: Si&Ad

Production Company: Academy Films

Executive Producer: Medb Riordan

Producer: Georgina Smith

Production Assistant: Heza Jalloh

DOP: Sebastian Wintero

Choreographer: Supple Nam

Production Designer: Mikey Hollywood

1st AD: Clara Paris

Costume Designer: Lucy Hagan

Edit House: The Assembly Rooms

Editor: Sam Rice-Edwards

Post House: nineteen twenty

Colourist: Kai van Beers

Sound Design: James Saunders

Music Supervision: Lizz Harman at DLMDD

Client: NHS England

Phil Bastable: Deputy Director, Head of Marketing and Social Media Team

Ben King: Lead Campaigns Manager

Imelda McAloon: Senior Campaigns Manager

OMO Detergent


Sign up for our newsletter

Don't miss out. Receive our free weekly newsletter to learn about the best creative work from all around the globe. We're keeping your email safe and confidential.