The AC Camargo Cancer Center and Warner Bros have banded together with JWT Brazil to create the “Superformula to Fight Cancer.” This beautiful and heart warming campaign blends the heartaches and hardships of being a child fighting cancer, with the super-human ability and wonder of some of “The Justice League’s” best known superheroes.
This program was based on the idea that the first step to the fight against cancer is believing in the cure. In order to get their patients to believe, JWT Brazil’s creative team worked with doctors to create a case that clips together to completely cover the chemotherapy intravenous bag. This case combined the painful medication with the magical world of super heroes and was given the name, “Superformula.” The new name and look of the treatment helped to change the perception in the kids’ by convincing them that the Superformula gave them their own superpower which could be used to conquer their illness.
The team at JWT Brazil didn’t stop there. To give these covers a more powerful meaning, the agency produced a special series of cartoons and comic books in which the superheroes go through experiences similar to those of kids with cancer, and recover their strength, thanks to the “Superformula.” In addition, the team provided a new look for the entire children’s ward of the AC Camargo Cancer Center: The game room was converted into the Hall of Justice, hallways and doors were decorated with the same idea, and a special entrance was created to fit the theme for these little heroes to enter through.
Since this campaign has been up and running, it has truly helped these kids in their own struggle against one of the world’s greatest villains. See their priceless reactions for yourself below and read our interview with the creative team behind the work.
What did the creative brief entail for this project? How did you get to the “Superformula” idea from the brief?
Actually, it was a proactive idea from the agency, conceived from our understanding and close relationship with the client, with whom we have been working for more than 12 years.
We got to this idea based on recent studies of the humanization of cancer treatment specific to pediatrics and how giving more positive meaning to the treatment is beneficial.
The nurses in the video seem so excited that the children will finally have something to believe in that will actually help them get better.
Can you describe what, if any, insights were gained from the nurses and doctors?
We captured the nurses’ initial reaction to the Superformula on video. It was a surprise to them since the only members of the hospital staff who knew about the project were the ones responsible for approval. We were the ones to tell the nurses the idea and to show them the coverings for the chemo medication. The testimony given by the nurse, who was genuinely touched, took place minutes after learning about the new approach to medicating the patients.
How were the animations and comic books that were created for this campaign used to enhance the feeling achieved by the Superformula?
The stories align the two situations: a child with cancer and a typical superhero story. It helps to explain how the treatment will unfold, leaving a crystal clear message of the importance of believing in the cure; in other words, of having hope.
The analogies are quite simple. The super hero will live an experience similar to that of a child with cancer. The villain, representing the disease, sprays an invisible gas at the hero that makes the cell division erratic, thereby making him sick (we never talk about cancer, rather we always describe the process realistically.) The Superfriends represent family and the Superformula represents chemotherapy. The doctors represent themselves. It’s very important to tell the kids the story through analogies that they will easily understand but to never lie to them. Therefore, a Superhero does not develop the Superformula, nor does it come from another planet, specialists develop it. In the end, obviously, the Superhero recovers his power and beats the bad guy.
What was the most rewarding part of this project? What was the most difficult part?
The most beautiful part of the project was the possibility of creating a pure idea, an idea capable of changing cancer treatment for children from now on. Surprisingly, this job did not have a difficult part. The idea appeared with an incredible energy which continued as it was conceived, presented, and put into action.
After the “Superformula” was introduced, can you tell us about the impact it had on the kids?
What we see in the video are the first reactions from the children: smiles and great curiosity, a reaction that was far from fear. The Superformula idea has helped them believe that this strong medication that makes their hair fall out, that makes them nauseated, or that takes away their desire to eat, is actually something with an objective and that can save them.
Have any other hospitals showed interest in picking up this idea for their children’s center?
This idea has just recently been released in the media. In the first days we have already received a lot of positive feedback from professionals in the medical area. Considering how well the project has been received, I believe that it is just a matter of time until the idea is picked up by other children’s cancer treatment centers.