Pink Hippo’s ‘Hop on the Chest’ educates a stadium

Calvin Evans in “Hop on the Chest”

While working on an instructional video project for non-profit Illinois Heart Rescue, Pink Hippo Productions and Cates Collaborative decided that bucket drummers, funky rhythms and hip hop lyrics were essential components to educational messages about treating heart attack victims.

The resulting PSAs, “Hop On The Chest,” were so entertaining that their client decided to premier the longest one during the middle of a Cubs’ game at Wrigley Field.

“We made a 30-second version for stadiums,” says Pink Hippo partner John Xydis, “but Wrigley played the 90 second one.”

“Hop On The Chest” shows actor Calvin Evans taking charge of a backyard barbecue after a guest falls to the ground with signs of a heart attack. As the piece turns into a music video, he raps a lesson about cardiac arrest.

Pink Hippo partner Nick Puetz filmed several takes with an Arri Alexa Classic. Clutch Studios’ Kevin McGurn cut the best of them into versions that appear to have been shot by a much larger crew.

The creative and talent came by way of Cates Collaborative, a network of creative pros founded and operated by John Cates, a writer and creative director who spent five years making videos for Second City’s corporate division before launching his own company.

The Pink Hippo crew outside their CineSpace officePink Hippo previously had worked with Cates on 40 videos for a branded entertainment social media campaign for Tomy Toys “First Years” line of stuffed animals, sippy cups and various toddler products that easily lends itself to humor.

Now they wanted to lighten up the urgent response checklist for people who witness a heart attack.

“They loaded us up with all kinds of facts and figures about sudden cardiac arrest,” recalls Cates. “There were four major points: One, recognize the signs; two call 911; three, perform CPR; four, use an automated external defibrillator.”

In order to quickly attract and maintain attention, Cates “went to a musical approach” by hiring three musicians who had performed in filmmaker Mallory Sohmer’s doc, “Drumbeat Journey,” about Chicago bucket drummers.

Audio from their on-set performance was mixed into a bucket-drumming studio recording and a percussion track by composer Jesse Case.

Within these familiar sites and sounds of the city, the video seamlessly taught thousands of baseball fans a crucial lesson: “If you perform CPR,” explains Xydis, “it triples the chance of survival.”