This post was originally published on my old blog, advocatebydesign.org. I am republishing it here in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Back in September of 2013, I participated in a video shoot with 2e Creative to talk about an important but little-known cancer risk factor. 2e Creative invited St. Louis women to educate others about breast density. Most modern technology is less accurate for dense breasts. That means that in addition to increasing risk of cancer, breast density interferes with diagnosis.
I chose to participate in the video because my mom is a breast cancer survivor. She’s not the only one in my family either, so I pay close attention to news about this dangerous disease. I’ve also learned that any chance to be on set teaches me about the adventure from storyboards to youtube.
I spoke with Bridget Reddick, the writer and lead creative on this project. Matt Bender acted as the Art Director, Brandon Chuang added his copywriting skills and Joe Toohey, a creative principle was heavily involved. Many professionals from Siemens’ worldwide staff contributed as well.
New Siemens Product Inspires Global Conversation
Reddick explained that Siemens’ ultrasound division has recently unveiled a breakthrough technology. This mahcine is capable of better seeing through density to create a different perspective of the breast. Density is very important in the fight against breast cancer because it has a higher correlation to getting cancer than family history. Despite its importance as a risk factor, not everyone knows about breast density or its ability to block diagnosis. For some women, getting answers is going to be harder, and they might not even know it.
In working out a strategy with Siemens to promote this new product, 2e Creative saw an opportunity to tell a story that would resonate with women everywhere. This revoluntionary advance matters because it can save lives, by aiding diagnosis. This idea became so powerful, it overshadowed the details about the new equipment. The piece became entirely about Siemens educating women.
Recognizing the emotional power behind this topic, 2e Creative also filmed a behind-the-scenes video. The second spot wasn’t limited to 30 seconds and takes a more personal look at this issue. The result of the combined videos is content that tells both the technical and human story.
Navigating Complexities Across a Global Brand and Cultural Sensitivities
In addition to the taboo nature of cancer, breasts can easily offend or distract the viewer. Siemens has an interal team for testing the content with diverse audiences. 2e Creative also leveraged their relationship with LAMP, one of their pro-bono clients. LAMP provides free translation services to local immigrants and added another layer of certainty that the content worked across cultures.
2e Creative exhausted over a dozen ideas, presenting four finished concepts to the Siemens team. As the project continued, more departments joined the feedback loop. Reddick recalls, “Even with many departments of an international corporation weighing in, we had a clear consensus about the story from the beginning. We were able to tell the same story four different ways, which isn’t always the ccase. Sometimes each idea needs to reflect a slightly different version. We work really hard at 2e Creative to facilitate as much understanding and consensus as possible from the beginning.” One idea that didn’t make it to the final cut, but everyone appreciated was the team’s idea for a humorous slogan, “Eyes down here!”
It was important to communicate that Asian women tend to have dense breasts, without singling them out or creating an atmosphere of fear. After all, every woman needs to know about breast density. They accomplished this by including women from all backgrounds in the video, while bringing Asian women to the forefront. They also included an interview in Mandarin in the documentary. In Asia, it has been more widely accepted that mammography has limitations.
Setting the Right Tone
The final spot is informative, serious but not over-dramatic. At the same time it offers a technical description of how dense breasts hide cancer cells from the machines trying to diagnose them. Reddick notes that the desire for clear answers drives much of the conversation about breast cancer. She says, “Look at genetic testing. That’s a great tool to detect the BRCA2 gene. It’s important for people who do have that gene, because their risk of cancer will be much higher. But it’s easy to forget that most of the women diagnosed with breast cancer don’t have that gene. And only 15 percent of women diagnosed with breast cancer have a family history.”
Reddick empathizes, “People want answers. Especially healthcare professionals. It’s human nature.” Like being afraid of the dark, people fear unknown odds against cancer. Reddick points out that there are very few requirements about whether technicians should discuss density with patients during screening. Because of the uncertainty, there is a serious risk of the techniciain scaring women disproportionately or the patient questioning regular testing. Medical professionals have to rely on their best judgement in this murky area.
Reddick says outlining a breast with women started as an idea for print, but as the team worked through the concept, they were inspired to take it further. They realized that with video, the a crowd of women could transform into the breast, taking the viewer on a tiny journey. It also shows the human side of breast cancer and is more poetic (and sensitive) than an actual breast.
Increasing Clarity with a Muted Color Palette
And, no, they didn’t forget the pink ribbons. Reddick explains, “We wanted to be really clear about our message. Because these videos were not a part of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we steered clear of pink. Also, many people connect the pink balloons and ribbons with certain attitudes and philosophies and our project had a mission distinct from those: raising awareness about breast density.” She adds, “We really needed to protect the Siemens brand. Every brand has guidelines and the color pink isn’t part of this one. Breast health is bigger than just one color or movement. The spot is about Siemens creating awareness.”
Why 2e Creative is Uniquely Qualified to Tell this Story
Well-established in the field of medical marketing, 2e Creative’s storytellers are skilled in navigating complex regulations, technical realities, high-level accuracy while keeping the viewer interested. This expertise carries across many sectors, working with doctors, technology companies, patients and the general public. As their many awards and satisfied clients will attest, 2e Creative also has a proven track record with many industries and audiences.
2e Creative has been alongside the medical industry in the long road fighting cancer. From radiation lasers designed for specific body parts to cutting-edge pan-cancer approaches, 2e Creative works with clients fighting for better solutions. Reddick observes, “Our clients are incredibly passionate about their work helping people. We tell new clients, we create change for brands that want to change the world. Our reputation brings people to us, but our relationships keep them coming back. We’re lucky to have clients who continue to work with us again and again.”
The Writer Will See You Now
Flexing her creative muscles in this context has definitely given Reddick a different outlook. She notes, “Doctors have a short-hand, a way they communicate with each other. They don’t have to fill in a lot of the details when they converse with each other. My doctors are always surprised when I know their short-hand.” The doctor-speak took some time to learn. Even though she didn’t have a science background when she started her career, Reddick explains, “Words have always made sense to me.” Additionally, friends and family often ask her for help understanding the medical jargon in their bills.
In a previous job, Reddick worked with patient advocates, coaching survivors of breast cancer to tell their story and talk about the treatments that saved their life. Her experience and sensitivity contributed to the behind-the-scenes video as she conducted the interviews, guiding the women as they shared their story.
To learn more about breast density, visit Are You Dense.