How advertising ‘resurrected’ the children of the Balmis Expedition


“The Government of the Canary Islands, through the Ministry of Health, asked us to think about how to ask the Canarian citizens to come to their appointment for vaccination. The challenge was not so much in seeking the conversion of the deniers, who the Ministry identified as a very minority, but in mobilizing society to responsibly attend their appointment and thus be able to comply with the desired rate of vaccination, “says Bombín about a This campaign started just when the population under 60 years of age began to be vaccinated, since it is in the youngest people that there is less feeling of risk of having a serious illness from the disease.

Miguel Moriarty, creative director of 22 Grados, then began an investigation “and comes across the history of the Royal Balmis Expedition and the curiosity that it is making its first stop in Tenerife. Balmis “, they remember in the agency,” arrives with 22 children, who would be nicknamed as the 22 angels and they were the ones who transmitted the smallpox vaccine from arm to arm, so that the local population would then pass it from one to another. The Canary Islands was the first place in the world in which a vaccination campaign was carried out with a logistics comparable to what we live today, and also smallpox is the only disease that can be said to have been totally eradicated.

Twenty professionals from the Islands sign the publicity action of the Ministry of Health


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With the approval of the Canarian Government, who liked the idea from the beginning, the spot and the testimonies of Amós García and Begoña Reyero were recorded in mid-April. “During the execution there was a constant dialogue with the team of the Ministry of Health and all the edges of such an ambitious communication platform were nuanced”, says Eladio Bombín.

“You had to have a specialized agency, because you had to meet various requirements,” recalls Miguel Moriarty about the search for the twenty-two protagonists of the campaign. «They had to be children under 9 years old, like those of the Balmis Expedition, but over 5 years old, to make the filming manageable and because the children, like their families and all the technical staff, had to undergo a test of antigens’. They finally decided to work with the Canarian agency PopHouse.

The creative director of 22 Ángeles was Miguel Moriarty, 22 Degrees, while the photography and production were carried out by Aarón J. Melián and Juanmi Márquez, respectively, both from La Créme Films. “The spot was filmed at Finca La Quinta Roja, in Garachico (Tenerife) and both the filming of the advertisement and the two testimonies took place in two days,” recalls Moriarty.

Another moment of the filming of the ’22 Angeles’ campaign 22 DEGREES


“It was not easy to find a space that met all the conditions that this campaign required,” continues Moriarty. «It had to have interiors, exteriors, stairs, a large patio… and everything had to be credible in a piece set in 1803. We found some locations with these requirements, but only one that also had all the safety requirements for a filming with kids”.

Working with the production company La Créme Films for the execution of the pieces “was not only a wonderful experience, but thanks to them the technical excellence was achieved that gives the spot such a cinematographic style that makes the story more attractive”, they value from 22 Degrees.

“The story of those 22 children acts as a mirror of ourselves,” they say


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Also noteworthy is the extra work behind the 22 Ángeles campaign “to achieve the craft of the piece, that highly artistic finish, that care for details that make the story credible. From the location, the movie costumes, the props and even the animals create an environment that elevates the quality ”of this production in which about 20 people worked between the technical staff of the filming and the creative team of 22 Grados.

“We were clear that the campaign had to provide society with a communication platform in which to investigate more about a story that, through many connections and parallels, places the 22 children as a mirror of ourselves, seeking to activate a mechanism of social reciprocity. That is why they look at us and tell us to get vaccinated, from a mobilizing imperative. The way in which the story was constructed also served us to pay tribute to all the scientific and health personnel who make vaccination possible ”, they conclude.

Travel to the Canary Islands of the XIX century in the XXI century

Correctly setting the spot 22 Ángeles played an important role when recording the campaign of the Ministry of Health of the Government of the Canary Islands aimed at promoting mass vaccination among Canarian society. Giving credibility to the story of this production, shot in a house in Garachico, was important to sustain the history of the children of the Balmis Expedition, a pioneer in vaccination campaigns in the 19th century. | 22 DEGREES

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