Y&R SA’s Operation 45 campaign kicks off at Soweto Derby

Posted: February 2, 2016

Operation SmileY&R South Africa’s Cape Town office and partners launched the #Operation45 campaign during the Soweto Derby over the weekend, during which two boys received life-changing surgeries to correct their cleft lips.

Operation Smile, an international children’s medical charity that performs safe, effective cleft lip and cleft palate surgeries, is celebrating their 10th anniversary in South Africa this year. They embarked on the national campaign to create awareness about the availability of free surgeries and post-operative and ongoing medical therapies. Since it only takes as little as 45 minutes (the length of half a soccer match) to perform an operation that can drastically change the life of a child with a cleft lip, Y&R South Africa leveraged the power of the Operation Smilesport of soccer to bring this message to life during one of the most fiercely contested matches in African football.

The campaign spotlights two young boys, Ofentse and Alexzander, who were both born with the condition. In the first installment of a three-part documentary that was released on the brand new #Operation 45 mobisite and Soccer Laduma, viewers were introduced to them, their families, and the difficulties they face.

It did, however, remain a secret until game day that the two boys would receive their surgeries live during each half of the game, and viewers were able to follow their progress as the channel crossed over to sports presenter Sibongile (Sbosh) Mafu, as sheOpSmile _Option2 interviewed Dr Anil Madaree before and after each surgery. The audience was also invited to follow the live updates on the Operation Smile South Africa Twitter page and via the #Operation45 hashtag.

“This is one of those cross-platform ideas that makes you really nervous about whether or not you’re going to be able to pull it off. So we had to surround the idea with partners that were big and brave enough to see it over the line. It’s so rewarding to see brands like adidas, Soccer Laduma and DStv working together for an idea that changes perceptions and creates awareness for such an important cause. #Operaton45 is a campaign that changes people’s lives and it’s a sustainable model that can travel to regions that really need it. From an agency point of view, we were also fortunate to work with Arcade Content, Irvine Bartlett and Domino Digital to bring Operation 45 to life,” says Graham Lang, Chief Creative Officer of Y&R South Africa and Africa.

“Ultimately, the goal of Operation 45 is to destigmatise cleft lips and cleft palates. Soccer is a sport widely understood and appreciated by all, so it made sense to use it to make the operations relatable to the public and help individuals connect with the campaign. Operation 45 is illustrating how quick and affordable it can be to fix this condition, and the difference it can make,” commented Tamlin Abrahams, Regional Director of Operation Smile South Africa (OSSA). “Now, the next step, is for people to register their children, sign up as a volunteer or to donate to Operation Smile on the mobisite.”

Follow #Operation45 and @OpSmileSA for campaign updates and to watch the progress of these two brave boys. The second installment of the documentary will be released on Saturday, 6 February 2016 on the Operation Smile South Africa YouTube channel.