Submitted by: Rachel Aldighieri 17/03/2016
The Childhood Eye Cancer Trust (CHECT) is a UK charity that provides research, treatment, and support for victims of retinoblastoma – an aggressive and deadly eye cancer that occurs in very young children. Awareness of this cancer was extremely low, even amongst medical professionals, despite it causing the loss of one or both eyes in 90% of cases and can even lead to death if not detected early enough. This poster campaign targeted parents, carers, doctors and nurses to raise awareness of retinoblastoma and CHECT. It reached a phenomenal number of people and provided a simple way to test for the cancer using any cameraphone, putting the power of cancer detection in anyone’s hands.
Retinoblastoma is a deadly eye cancer that occurs in young children and, if not diagnosed promptly, usually has life-changing or life-threatening results. Early detection had to be the basis of any strategic proposition. Being a charity, there was no budget to speak of, so the campaign team talked to those who cared and knew the most – the parents of children in remission – and discovered that the tumour appears as a white pupil in flash photos, even in the early stages. This led to the simple but brilliant insight that you can detect it with any cameraphone.
For the first time, a mobile phone could be used as a medical tool for the detection of cancer, and CHECT found a simple but innovative way to spread the word.
Instead of telling people what to look for, CHECT let them experience it for themselves. Featuring four real-life Retinoblastoma survivors, the team created a series of posters that people could photograph to see for themselves how the cancer would appear. Each child’s eye looked normal on the poster, but an innovative, highly reflective ink containing particles of silver made their pupil appear white in the flash photo. Crucially, this had a real ‘wow’ factor, with high emotional impact the moment people saw the white pupil on their phone. This turned a simple poster into an interactive medium with a genuine medical function.
To reach health professionals and parents of young children, many of whom had little idea of Retinoblastoma, posters were displayed in GP surgeries, nurseries and pediatric sections of major UK hospitals. An online demonstration film and the newsworthy nature of the story helped spread greater awareness.