All smiles as #Operation45 documentary series wraps up

Posted: June 14, 2016


Y&R South Africa’s Cape Town office and partners recently celebrated the release of the final instalment of a three-part documentary series on #Operation45, a project that followed the progress of two small boys who received life-changing surgeries to correct their cleft lips.

Operation Smile is a medical charity that provides free surgeries to children born with the condition, but they face a big challenge in South Africa. Most people think it’s a complicated procedure, but it takes as little as 45 minutes – the length of half a soccer game. Since soccer is a sport that many South Africans understand, Operation Smile South Africa, Y&R South Africa and partners launched a mass awareness campaign and performed a cleft lip operation on each of the boys during each half of the Soweto Derby, Africa’s most televised football match. Influencers were selected to share the first of the three-part documentary series and pregame, halftime, and postgame TV spots were aired to encourage South Africans to follow the initiative.

In the first instalment of a three-part documentary series, released on the #Operation45 mobisite and Soccer Laduma, viewers were introduced to Ofentse and Alexzander, their families, and the struggles they faced before the operations. The second documentary was a behind-the-scenes look at the surgeries and sequence of events on game day, which powerfully captured the emotions of two mothers witnessing the lives of their children forever changed. The final documentary, which was recently screened at an event at the Grand Daddy Hotel in Cape Town, stunningly captured the end result – two smiling, happy baby boys who no longer struggle to form words or eat porridge.

“#Operation45 is an integrated campaign that truly pushed us as an agency to innovate and to elevate our creativity for the sake of genuinely improving people’s lives and changing behaviour,” says Graham Lang, Chief Creative Officer of Y&R South Africa and Africa. “With over 22 million engagements across platforms, and a significant increase in patient sign ups and volunteer interest on the mobisite, the proof is in the pudding and we are truly humbled that the campaign has had such tangible positive results.”

Tamlin Abrahams, Regional Director of Operation Smile South Africa (OSSA), adds that the mobisite will remain a long-term platform to register children or to donate to the cause. “We hope that the documentaries will live on and that they will continually inspire audiences through Ofentse and Alexzander’s journey. It’s not the final whistle yet,” she concludes.