In recognition of September’s Sickle Cell Awareness Month in 2021, Novartis and Havas launched a theatrical experience where five healthcare professionals were given a front-row seat to witness the moments in a person living with sickle cell disease's life. Prior to this experience, sickle cell disease (SCD) patient's stories were often unseen, misunderstood, and ignored.
The team involved myself as the Creative/Technologist and Laura Santana (UX Strategist at the time) on the Havas Mango team, along with the wider Havas Health agency network. During this project, I specifically brought my expertise in immersive environment design and storytelling to help a team that is used to working in traditional campaigns to consider the full picture in bringing experiential concepts to life.
To tell the story of Phillip, we isolated 4 life-defining moments that sickle cell disease directly altered in someway:
- School performance suffering due to VOC crisis (a flare up in symptoms) that are often severe and debilitating for days to weeks.
- Travelling internationally for a work trip and triggering a VOC crisis that required a hospital stay in a foreign country unpon landing
- Family coming to visit for Thanksgiving and wanting to power through the VOC crisis instead of getting medical help
- The VOC crisis was so severe, he ended up going to the ER and was discharged prematurely because he "looked fine." Fearing that he was in his last moments, he wrote a letter to his son, who was young at the time, to say goodbye in case he didn't make it.
For a dramatic ending, we brought out Phillip to the healthcare providers to reveal that those all based on true stories from his life. From there, each health care provider has a 1:1 conversation with Phillip on their thoughts from the experience and see how to prevent moments like these from happening to other SCD patients.
Since the budget would not accomodate for a full walkable environment build of each moment as we originally intended, we suggested a theatrical format with a rotating floor and pre-setup rooms in different directions to move the health care providers from one moment to the next without having to leave their seat.
Learn more about sickle cell disease and hear more from Phillip, our inspiration for this project: https://www.hcplive.com/view/phillip-okwo-crisis-life-interrupted-sickle-cell-disease