Putting critical care on the Christmas list

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Sector | Charity


Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance provide life saving critical care around the clock, all year round – and yes, that includes Christmas Day. But in order to do this they need to raise £250,000 a month and almost every single penny of that comes from public donations.

So how do you engage with a cynical public at a time of year when purse strings are even tighter than normal? Our solution was to create a campaign that encouraged people to make a simple small donation as a Christmas gift on behalf of a friend or loved one, rather than a pair of unwanted novelty socks or yet another box of chocolates. Put simply, Give Life Not Socks.

Unwrapping the perfect Christmas campaign

Once we had defined and tested the campaign messaging, we needed to find a way to deliver the campaign with the most impact and reach. Video via social media distribution was the natural choice to achieve this.

Our challenge was create a short, hard hitting promotional film that had the flexibility to be be cut in a number ways allowing for a series of 30 second stings that could be launched on social media on the run up to Christmas. It also required high quality and complex production values without a Hollywood budget. Something charities are becoming more conscious of as they juggle marketing budgets without the public perception of overspending.

As with any project that comes our way, it all starts with an idea. We knew we wanted the film to feature a RTA (Road Traffic Accident) and we knew it needed to focus around the Winter period, particularly Christmas. So a dramatic recreation that captured the real life drama of a crash in horrible weather was the approach we used to highlight the most important element – the speed, professionalism and compassion the HIOWAA team demonstrate in the field, that most people (are fortunate enough) to never see.

Pulling our socks up

From this we worked alongside HIOWAA to develop a narrative and script that both promoted the campaign concept and put context to just why they need public donations. Regardless of what time of year it is or what the weather is doing, they are always there and never stop.

Then we began to flesh out a storyboard and shot list, making conscious decisions during this process to ensure every frame visualised could be achieved from a production perspective and within the constraints of timescales and budget. No mean feat when you’re dealing with locations, an upturned vehicle, injury prosthetics and rain machines, not to mention HIOWAA paramedics and helicopter that are permanently on standby for a real call out.

Nightmare before Christmas

This is where creating a storyboard becomes imperative for a production of this scale and level of complexity. It allows for meticulously preproduction planning that ensures everyone involved in the process knows exactly what is required on the day. Not just from a camera and lighting setup point of view, but also the positioning and framing of vehicles, landing sites and timing. It also allows for shots to be filmed out of sequence (and often on separate days) and put back into the correct position during editing process. After all, not everyone is Tom Cruise.

Working closely with HIOWAA, Thruxton Fire and Rescue, volunteers and our film crew this way, we were able to capture almost all of the footage in the very compressed few hours of dusk. Cold, wet and charged with adrenaline, it really brought home the reality of what the HIOWAA team deal with do day in day out.

Once we had all the footage in the can we set about carefully piecing the elements together. Taking the numerous camera angles, B-roll footage and ADR (Automated Dialog Replacement) sessions to create the final edit. All enhanced with additional sound engineering and colouration to ensure continuity and maximum impact. You can see the result for yourself below.

Socking it to them

But of course the real result is how the campaign was received and whether HIOWAA reached their fundraising target. As of publishing this article the campaign has raised an impressive £17,963.59 and coverage has included a spot on the regional BBC News. We are certainly proud of the end product…

…but don’t take our word for it.

"Give Life Not Socks, our first Christmas campaign, shone a spotlight on our charity at a time of the year when it is notoriously difficult to stand out from the crowd. Not only did the campaign raise over £18,000 for our life-saving service, smashing our original fundraising target, but we saw a dramatic spike in our social media engagement, website traffic and local media coverage – we even made the 6 o'clock news. From the first creative sessions where we grappled with the all-important ‘Why? How? and What?, to the launch of the campaign in mid-November, 3Men² served as a collaborative partner, creative guiding light and full blown film production team. The bar has been set high!"

Caroline Tyree Communications and Marketing Manager

Bringing the campaign to life

Take a look behind the scenes and discover how we pulled off recreating a wet winters day RTA.

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