Sao Paulo, Brazil — If you’ve ever visited a cancer ward in a big hospital, you probably remember that instant visceral reaction you had to the surroundings. It’s scary in a cold, damp chill kind of way. That’s a feeling that’s perfectly described by Alison Wattie, a founder of Foundry Communications and a cancer survivor herself:

You sit in a hospital waiting room, cold and foreboding, with dozens of other people who have that same scared look in their eyes. By the time they call your name, your anxiety level is through the roof. They lead you into another room full of very sick people all hooked up to machinery that drones with a constant beep beep beep. When it’s your turn to be hooked up, they come at you with masks, gloves and protective vests because, as I was once told by the well-meaning technician, ‘this stuff’ll strip the linoleum off the floor’! It doesn’t matter if you are 8 or 48, going through chemo is a frightening experience that never gets any easier, even though you are told it is meant to ‘save’ you.

If that’s what it’s like for an adult, imagine what it’s like for a kid. The team at JWT and the A.C. Camargo Cancer Center did just that and then reimagined the entire experience to create surroundings that would take away the fear and ramp up the fight.

They transformed the hospital’s children’s ward into a superhero paradise, complete with a “Hall of Justice” game room and superhero-themed decorations. The intravenous chemotherapy bags became magic power against cancer when they were concealed in colorful superhero cases and rebranded as “Superformula.” Original comic books told stories about how super heroes recovered their strength thanks to that Superformula designed by expert doctors.

Surely the comic context is making the Cancer Center less scary, but more importantly, it’s helping doctors explain the disease and the treatment in a way that’s understandable and relatable to kids, helping them in their struggle against one of real life’s greatest villains.

Here are just some of the elements of the new Cancer Center experience and a video that shares the origin story:2

Posted by: Leigh Householder, thanks to a great tip from Bruce Rooke

About the Author:

As Managing Director of Innovation for Syneos Health Communications, Leigh is responsible for shaping the company’s perspective on the next era of healthcare marketing. Through thought leadership, strategic innovation workshops and new products and capabilities, Leigh focuses on identifying marketing approaches that will fuel that new era and generate significant growth for clients. Leigh has worked with Fortune 1000 companies to craft their digital, mobile, social and CRM strategies for over 17 years. She’s worked for category-leading agencies in retail, public affairs, B2B technology, and higher education. Prior to moving to Syneos Health Communications, she had several leadership roles at one of our agencies, GSW. There, she founded an innovation practice fueled by the zeitgeist and spearheaded digital and innovation thinking across the business. Leigh has taken a special interest in complex healthcare products that can change lives in meaningful ways. She was recently a strategic lead on the 3rd largest launch in pharmaceutical history: Tecfidera. Before that she had keys roles with Eli Lilly Oncology, Abbott Nutrition, Amgen Cardiovascular, and Eli Lilly Diabetes. A critical part of Leigh’s work is trends and new ideas. Every year, she convenes a group of trend watchers from across our global network to identify the shifts most critical to healthcare marketers. Leigh is a sought-after writer and speaker. Recognized as one of the most inspiring people in the pharmaceutical industry by PharmaVoice, Leigh also was recognized as a Rising Star by the Healthcare Businesswomen's Association (HBA) for her overt passion, industry thought leadership and significant contributions in new business, strategy and mentoring.