A story of the heart: Colenso and St John find inspiration in real life

New Zealand’s primary ambulance service, charity organisation St John has teamed up with Colenso BBDO and Thick as Thieves film company for its latest ‘Here for Life’ campaign, which celebrates the treasured moments a mother and daughter share, that they would not have otherwise, if St John wasn’t there to help.

The TVC features Haylee Wrenn from Hawkes Bay who was saved by St John after she suffered a cardiac arrest. According to St John’s website, she went into her local pharmacy to get antibiotics for her children. After receiving them, she took two big breaths, fell backwards and died in front of her children.

Luckily for Wrenn St John was able to resuscitate her and she is able to create many more cherished memories with her children, which is the basis of this campaign. Rather than focusing on the lifesaving aspect, it’s more about the positive experiences since the incident that can still be shared.

The TVC features a voiceover from Wrenn’s 12-year-old daughter Olivia where she thanks St John for the happy experiences she has had with her mother – like the picnics they shared, the girls shopping trips, bike rides, her zombie costume, the silly movie days, her mac and cheese nights and finally she thanks St John for her Mum.

Film director Michelle Savill shot most of the ad at the family home, so the clip depicts genuine details of their lives. It ends with Wrenn and her daughter reconnecting with the paramedics who saved her, and a shot of Wrenn embracing daughter Olivia.

“When we think about saving a life, we recognise it’s much more than just saving a beating heart,” says Commercial director at St John Peter Loveridge. “It’s also saving a family, friendships, a workmate, future experiences and potential. A life is an extraordinarily big thing.”

Steve Cochran, executive creative director at Colenso BBDO says the creation of the TVC has been a bit of an emotional ride.

“When we presented this approach several months ago we only had hypothetical scripts. Naturally we did wonder how authentic and emotional a story we might be able to capture. But Haylee’s story and her family’s openness and willingness to help blew us away. There have been a few tears shed in the making of this one.”

The TVC will roll out this week as 60- and 30-second TVCs, with an appeal ad also produced for the St John Annual Appeal in April.

Haylee says she wanted to share her story to help others appreciate St John, without having to have their own heart stop.

St John says it needs to advertise, as many New Zealanders don’t realise that their only national ambulance service is a charity and only partially funded by the government.

A St John release says that the organisation “relies on donations and volunteers to maintain and improve their services in the face of ever-increasing demand.”


Executive Creative Director: Steve Cochran 
Senior Art Director: Kristal Knight
Copywriter: Hannah Habgood
Group Business Director: Victoria Graves
Commercial Director Peter Loveridge 
Marketing Manager Kate Tinkler 
Marketing Communications Manager Jan Wilkinson
Campaign Manager Shareen Smith 
Production Company Thick as Thieves
Director Michelle Savill
Producer Rebekah Kelly / Nik Beachman
DOP Andrew McGeorge
Offline Editor Tom Eagles
Online Blockhead
Sound Design Franklin Rd Sound Studio

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