When fans gathered in downtown Toronto for the recent IHeartRadio Music Music Video Awards, they could crane their necks to spot Joe Jonas, applaud a win by Justin Bieber, or stand out from the crowd by doing a dance called “the Livi.”
The dance is named for Olivia, a nine-year-old girl currently in remission from a stage-three Wilms’ tumor, a cancer of the kidneys. Her appearance at the iHeartRadio MMVAs was part of a pro bono campaign to help her achieve her greatest wish: to become famous like the other celebrities walking the red carpet.
Olivia was introduced by the Children’s Wish Foundation of Canada to Mosaic, which helped get her dream started by creating a video clip in which she partners with So You Think You Can Dance Canada choreographer Blake McGrath to create “The Livi,” a signature set of moves that almost anyone could try on their own.
“At home I was always dancing,” Oliva says in the clip, while McGrath said the child’s story of being proud — rather than embarrassed — of her scars warmed his heart.
According to Sandy Watt, national director of marketing for Children’s Wish Foundation of Canada, the usual process is for children seeking a wish to fill out an “All About Me” form that outlines their interests and aspirations. In this case, however, Olivia and her family spent an entire day at the Mosaic offices, where the agency spent more time getting to know her. When it emerged she was interested in fame, Mosaic presented three different ideas, “but her mom only wanted to hear about the dance one, because it was so perfect,” Watts said.
Since the video was released and social media activity began, #DoTheLivi has garnered 67.6 million direct impressions across Instagram and Twitter, said Ashleigh Millar, director of experiential marketing at Mosaic.
“It was taking services we were already doing within the agency – creative work, design work, leading experiences with a production standpoint – but giving it a way for free and making that a wish for a child come true,” she said. “With paying clients, they normally have a media budget. You feel a little bit safer. I think what was really key to this one was building some great partnerships and working with influencer networks from the get-go.”
Children’s Wish initiatives tend to be localized within a specific community, but Olivia’s wish meant thinking differently, added Jess Willis, creative director at Mosaic. “The intent was that we really wanted it to be super-huge, so you’d have the whole world doing the Livi,” she said.
Watts said keeping a promise to Olivia not only meant making her feel famous but actually increasing her visibility across a wide audience.
“As an organization we’re always looking to ensure we maintain the health of the Children’s Wish brand and to more deeply engage our followers, our donors and so on,” she said. “I think we’ve done a great job in doing that here.”
Besides Mosaic and McGrath, Watts said the foundation was grateful for the help of Bell Media for its role in the IHeartRadio MMVAs and to the Fairmont Royal York Hotel, which donated its ballroom for creating the dance and filming the video clip.