The industry award-winning campaign that tackled a killer

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Last year's dramatic campaign for Australia's Heart Foundation may have saved thousands of lives by spotlighting the country's worst serial killer.

The award-winning News Corp campaign is featured in a new INMA blog by ideas editor Paula Felps.

She tells how the campaign was developed after the publisher learned of the killer which was cutting down 51 Australians every day.

Working with the Heart Foundation, the publisher tapped into a fascination with true crime to created a compelling and effective campaign, which gained national attention and helped spur government officials into action.

"Although heart disease continues to be a threat in Australia, many people remained unaware of just how deadly it is," says Felps. "Over the past five years, research showed that awareness of heart disease as the country's biggest killer had fallen by more than half - even as the number of victims continued climbing."

News sought to apply enough pressure for the introduction of Medicare-funded heart health checks, which it says could save thousands of lives each year. It also wanted Australians to educate themselves about heart disease and learn how to reduce their risk. A key piece of the campaign was an online 'heart age calculator' which allowed users to discover the 'true age' of their heart.

The campaign launched in February last year after News had teased the story beforehand - promising a thorough investigation into the country's most terrifying serial killer - revealing the culprit in a combination of print and online editorial and ad campaigns. Included were video interviews with police officers, survivors, family members of victims and doctors.

"The campaign had an immediate and overwhelming response, with more than 120,000 heart age calculations completed in the first two days and over 160,000 usages by the end of the first week," says Felps. "The first year response rate exceeded one million completed calculations."

The Australian government also sprang into action, promising to fund heart health checks, an action the Heart Foundation estimated would prevent more than 9000 deaths from heart attack and stroke, as well as avoiding some 76,000 heart attacks over the next five years.

Doctors also saw an increase in patient visits, with 70,000 Australians visiting their general practitioner, and more than 2.5 million people visited the Heart Foundation website during the campaign, which has generated 9.1 million page views to date - up 70 per cent on the months before the campaign launch.

"The campaign successfully took on Australia's worst serial killer, putting heart disease in the hot seat and, most of all, saving lives," says Felps.

The campaign was a winner globally and locally, gaining a second place and two honourable mentions in INMA's Global Media Awards earlier this year, as well as awards in Australia's News Media Awards and News Corp Australia's News Awards in 2019.

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