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Ad of the Day: Memorial Sloan Kettering Tells Three Powerful, Inspiring Cancer Stories


Giving people a new way to think and talk about cancer."

That's the mission of three Internet films from New York's Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, according to chief communications officer Avice Meehan. "We started to frame that language in the original work last fall," Meehan says, "and now we are bringing in the human impact by celebrating the stories of the people we serve."

The films, running three to four minutes, each focusing on one cancer survivor's story, are the latest phase of MSK's "More science. Less fear" campaign. They were created by the New York office of Pereira & O'Dell, which introduced the campaign in September. That first phase included TV, print and outdoor ads featuring bright colors and positive message such as, "There will never be one cure for cancer. There will be millions."

Now, the optimistic message continues.

"My purpose in life is so big," says Valerie Hamilton, a teacher, mother of two, and one of the survivors we meet in the films. "My journey is not over … There were things that I felt I needed to accomplish."

The other subjects echo these sentiments. Danny Soto, a firefighter in Hoboken, N.J., wants to continue serving his community, and Suzanne Kane, who receives her diagnosis four months before her wedding day, is determined to have a baby.

"Everyone has a unique cancer journey," MSK's Meehan tells Adweek. "But in most cases, it is a journey that people have not been on before, and for which they are unprepared. Not knowing what to expect, or even what to do first, can make a patient feel a loss of control, which adds to the burden and fear that people are experiencing."

Indeed, personal empowerment—the notion of helping patients overcome their initial fears and making them true partners in managing their treatment—is a theme throughout each of the films, as well as in TV, print and digital elements. "By developing personalized care plans and caring for each patient as a person with distinct concerns and needs, MSK can help patients regain some of this control," Meehan says.

At the close of each story, the line "Science saves more than lives" flashes on screen, underscoring that MSK's expertise played a key role in allowing the subjects to realize their post-cancer dreams and aspirations.

"Our vision for the 'Science Saves' films was to tell stories about people, not patients," and focus on their lives and achievements after they recovered, says Dave Arnold, executive creative director at Pereira & O'Dell.

Director David Gelb, via production house Nonfiction Unlimited, delivers. The films serve up heartfelt, at times harrowing, but ultimately hopeful patient testimonials. The stories are never maudlin or overwrought. They skillfully balance honesty and optimism, packing considerable power.

Ultimately, the campaign portrays cancer as an unwanted chapter that can be overcome with MSK's help, allowing folks to turn the page and continue writing the stories of their lives.

Client: Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
Agency: Pereira & O'Dell, New York
Executive Creative Director: Dave Arnold
Associate Creative Director: Jake Dubs
Associate Creative Director: Alexei Beltrone
Copywriter: Michelle Lamont
Art Director: Alex Parodi
Art Director: Lauren Geisler
Managing Director: Cory Berger
Group Account Director: Carey Cwieka
Account Supervisor: Joelle Hadaya
Account Executive: Jana Cudiamat
Strategy Director: Mike Lewis
Strategist: Anna Bedineishvili
Head of Production, New York: Tennille Teague
Senior Producer: Tamara Lecker
Business Affairs Director: Russ Nadler
Business Manager: Jaime Szefc

Company: Nonfiction Unlimited
Director: David Gelb
Managing Director: Michael Degan
Executive Producer: Loretta Jeneski
Head of Production/Executive Producer: Patrick Degan
Line Producer: Franny Freiberger
Director of Photography: Maryse Alberti

Company: Union Editorial
Editors: Sloane Klevin, Karen Kourtessis
Assistant Editor: Adriana Machado
Executive Producer: Caryn MacLean
Senior Producer: Susan Motamed
GFX/title design: Jun Lee
Producer: Yoko Lytle

Animation (TV)
Company: BUCK
Creative Director: Orion Tait
Executive Producer: Anne Skopas
Producer: Ann Seymour
Associate Creative Director: Daniel Oeffinger
Design: Aaron Kemnitzer, Justin Lawes, Gareth O'Brien
Animation: Wesley Ebelhar, Andreas Hansen, Aaron Kemnitzer, Justin Lawes, Enle Li, Gonzalo Menevichian
Colorist: Jose Fuentes

Music (TV)
Company: Search Party
Music Producer: Winslow Bright
Composer: Nicholas Wright

Audio (Films)
Company: Heard City

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