This Charity Ad Shows You A Real Birth To Shock You Into Giving

Save the Children UK uses unflinching footage of a woman giving birth to raise awareness for the 1 million babies who don’t survive their first day each year.

There are a lot of ways to try and get people’s attention for a good cause. You can use humor, play to emotions or even devise a fun gimmick. Or you can simply shock viewers into sitting up and paying attention. This new ad from Save the Children UK is one of those.


Created by London agency adam&eveDDB, the spot opens in a dark delivery room, where you very quickly realize what’s about to happen. Instead of the using the usual visual tricks to avoid the nitty gritty of childbirth, the camera stays put and forces you to witness the miracle of a child’s birth. As the mother weeps and the child is quietly attended the screen goes black with the words, “For a million newborns every year, their first day is also their last,” and fear the worst. The midwife is then seen working to clear the newborn’s blocked airwaves, encouraging the child to start breathing independently, and slowly the newborn begins the familiar cry.

Agency managing director Mat Goff says the idea for the spot came out of conversations with Save the Children about how to address the challenges faced by mothers giving birth without medical help and the unbelievable number of unnecessary deaths this causes. “We talked about wanting to dramatize the issue in as emotional and impactful way as possible,” says Goff. “Showing an actual birth felt like the best way to do that and so we explored existing footage of births that Save the Children had on film. We then had to work hard to create an edit that could condense the actual events into 60 seconds and create the emotion and impact we needed.”

It’s powerful stuff and an effective way to get the rest of us to pay attention, putting a tiny face to the statistics behind the organization’s (no pun intended) push for better midwife training and funding where it’s needed most.

“Bringing even shocking statistics to life is not easy,” says Goff. “We’re all aware of the plight of others, but the statistics sometimes make the problems look insurmountable. Our challenge is to make people want to make a difference, and to make them feel that together we can really make a difference however big the challenge feels. Our cause is the lives and potential of children, and we always show the plight of actual children that have been helped by Save the Children to help give those statistics a human face.”

About the author

Jeff Beer is a staff editor at Fast Company, covering advertising, marketing, and brand creativity. He lives in Toronto.