Cannes Lions

A Touch of Flu

21GRAMS, New York / ASTRAZENECA / 2023






Flu can be seriously debilitating not just for children but for local health services. Vaccinating them is proven to reduce hospital admissions by 85%. The effect even spreads to the adults around them, reducing their doctor visits by 63%.

Our brief was to target hard to reach parents and persuade them to get their child vaccinated against flu - despite a lack of urgency and hardening attitudes towards vaccination.


"A Touch of Flu" is a highly successful integrated campaign in which all of the elements work together to communicate (in different ways) how flu spreads by touch.

The core creative idea is simple: people don't urgently act on risks they can't see. So we made the invisible flu a visible threat.

In our UV experiment, we swabbed UV ink on school children to simulate a runny nose, and let kids be kids for the rest of the day. Then, we let blacklight take care of the rest, revealing where the germs would have spread. And the social film documenting it went just as viral.

The world's largest petri was an OOH sensation at a Manchester mall, as a visual and viral display that brought germs to life (literally).

All supported by the radio - a theater-of-the-mind audio experience that painted disgusting pictures highlighting how flu spreads. It worked.


The target audience was all parents of vaccine age children in the UK (where flu vaccines are free for all school-age kids).

Elements of the integrated campaign reached the audience in different ways: on social, in person and audibly.

Research shows that people are more likely to fear risks they can see. Since the flu is invisible, it was "out of sight, out of mind" for many parents, lacking the urgency for vaccination or dismissing it as unnecessary.

Our approach was to make the risk of flu impossible to ignore - dramatizing the nature of germs and how broadly they spread - in relatable, tangible, visceral ways. Because the results of our experiments, in particular, were more dramatic than most parents (and even we) would have expected - the element of surprise led to impressive engagement and action. Simply put, it was effective.


"A Touch of Flu" was an immersive, integrated campaign that was implemented in the UK, with a focus on Manchester, where flu vaccination levels are some of the lowest in the nation. As an integrated campaign, there were several elements, but start to finish it was executed over a span of roughly 5 months.

The UV experiment was filmed and posted on targeted social media channels, boosting the contagious nature of the campaign. The world's largest petri dish was witnessed by thousands over the course of a week, at a busy Manchester shopping mall. A living out of home installation, also filmed and featured on the same social channels.

Radio wasn't just radio for "A Touch of Flu", it was an experience. Theater of the mind that painted powerful, disgusting pictures in people's minds to illustrate how it spreads. The whole of the campaign engaged half the UK.


The results of our campaign were striking. Proving that some things just have to be seen (or heard) to be believed.

Half the UK engaged with the campaign

33,300,150 impressions

2,074, 792 interactions

+53% forecast expectations

3,064,876 vaccines given

79,687 extra kids vaccinated

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