See Publicis’ powerful spot about returning to work after cancer that will run in the Super Bowl

Ad directed by Martin de Thurah is designed to act as a ‘wake-up call’ to company employees

Published On
Jan 31, 2023

Editor's Pick

Having launched its Working With Cancer initiative at Davos earlier this month, Publicis Groupe is moving to the next stage of the project with a multi-million dollar consumer-facing advertising campaign that will include a regional Super Bowl buy.

The cross-industry coalition, which is aimed at erasing the stigma and insecurity of cancer at work, hopes the campaign will be a be global “wake-up call” urging everyone to play their part in supporting colleagues with cancer.  

The fully integrated campaign is supported by $100m in media donated by partners such as Disney/ABC, NBCU, Warner Bros Discovery, Paramount, Fox, Roku, Snap, iHeart, TikTok, YouTube, NCM, Screenvision, Clear Channel, Lamar, Zeta and Meta, which is contributing 1 billion impressions to the campaign.

It kicks off with a TV spot that will air in the New York region during the Super Bowl as a one-minute version (see below), and as a two-minute version online and in cinemas. Publicis is the first holding company ever to purchase and invest in a Super Bowl spot, according to the company.

The film depicts the journeys of two cancer patients from different walks of life, a woman in the corporate world and a man in a blue-collar job, as they adjust to their first Monday back at work after cancer treatment. The spot takes them through some harrowing flashbacks of their treatment as they prepare to go back, but ends on a note of hope as their colleagues help and support them on their first day back. It ends with the message that half of us will be diagnosed with cancer in our lifetime, and all of us should give support at work.

The film was created by Publicis Conseil and directed by veteran Dutch director Martin de Thurah together with young Italian director, Elena Petitti Di Roreto. The production team, cast and crew included both cancer survivors and caregivers (including one of the lead actors, who has been treated for cancer.)

The campaign also includes outdoor media including a Times Square takeover, set to launch on World Cancer Day (Feb.4). Creative for the outdoor also focuses heavily on the statistic that half of all people will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime. 


A OOH ad for Working with Cancer showing a woman's headshot torn in half and in the center torn area are the words HALF OF US WILL BE DIAGNOSED WITH CANCER IN OUR LIFETIME. ALL OF US SHOULD SUPPORT PEOPLE WITH CANCER IN THE WORKPLACE. HALF


The consumer-facing campaign follows the launch of the first film for Working with Cancer, which aired at Davos. According to Publicis Groupe Chief Strategy Officer Carla Serrano, whereas the first film was aimed at "encouraging company leaders and CEOs to see what we didn’t understand; that people are coming into work and hiding their treatment,” the second phase is aimed at the general public who are employees of corporations, with a view to getting them to ask their companies to sign up.


A vertical billboard in Times Square for Working with Cancer showing a man's headshot torn in half and in the center torn area are the words HALF OF US WILL BE DIAGNOSED WITH CANCER IN OUR LIFETIME.  ALL OF US SHOULD SUPPORT PEOPLE WITH CANCER IN THE WORKPLACE.


“We wanted (the Davos launch) to be super-pointed so that people would sign up and commit, so it was a very targeted moment,” Serrano told Ad Age. “But without the bottom up groundswell of people participating and creating that supportive work culture, those policies and programs would stay policies and programs.  We needed something that really touched the culture of everybody. We want people to go their company bosses and HR and ask, are we creating this thing together?”

Serrano added that she was hoping that, by airing the film during the Super Bowl, “it will absolutely break through, in that environment of comedy and entertainment.”

According to Marco Venturelli, CEO and chief creative officer at Publicis Conseil, the starting point for the film was that “every cancer story is a very personal one.” The agency worked with the coalition's charity partners including MacMillan, MSK, Gustave Roussy and Cancer at Work to explore different accounts of people's cancer experiences. Plus, he added, “we discovered a lot of people on the crew had their own personal story, including one of our lead actors..”

The stories, set on a Monday morning, also illustrate the "tension of coming back to work.” explained Venturelli.  “For someone with cancer, going back to simple normality is extremely emotionally difficult. But we also wanted to show a message of hope and that human support and the network of people that you see at work every day is so important for recovery.”

Following a private screening of the ad to Publicis employees, many had emailed messages of support revealing their personal stories, he added.  “One woman told me it was the first time she had heard the word cancer in a film like that.”

The Working With Cancer coalition was created following the personal experience of Arthur Sadoun, Publicis Chairman and CEO, and his cancer diagnosis. 

“Thanks to the coalition of our partners and the support of the World Economic Forum, Working with Cancer is already positively impacting the lives of 20 million people,” said Sadoun in a statement. “Of course, we will continue to rally more companies to the movement. But just as vital is the role all of us can play by standing with our colleagues with cancer. That is why we are launching a call not only for awareness, but for action from everyone, to create a real cultural shift in the workplace.”


Jan 31, 2023
Agency :
Publicis Groupe
Agathe Bousquet
Marco Venturelli
Copywriter :
Marco Venturelli
Head of Art :
Maud Robaglia
Creative :
Laura Aondio
Creative :
Francesca Vitello
Co-President :
Christopher Thiery
Head of Agency Production :
Caroline Petruccelli
Head of Sound :
Christophe Caurret
Business Director :
Shannon Eddy
Production Company :
Executive Producer :
Jean-Luc Bergeron
Producer :
Gaelle Delaporte
Production Coordinator :
Julia Mongin
Director :
Elena Petitti Di Roreto
Consultant Director :
Martin de Thurah
Director of Photography :
Thimios Bakatakis
1st AD :
Jean-François Fontanel
Set Designer :
Emmanuelle Duplay
Model Maker :
Frédéric Laine
Costume Designer :
Sonia Philouze
Production Service Company :
Anonymous Content
Managing Director :
Victoria Fitzwilliams
Head of Production :
Shion Hayasaka
Post Production :
Post Producer Image :
Nathalie Depas
Post Producer Sound :
Joel Tessonneau
Editor :
Yannick Giffard
Editor Assistant :
Alex Petropavlovsky
Grading :
Jean Clement Soret
Sound Research :
Maxime Rouge
Sound Research :
Grégoire Bucaille
Sound Engineer :
Olivier Vehert
Business Affairs :
Romain Busnel
Business Affairs :
Claara Bonnel
Post Production :
The Mill
Executive Producer :
Christophe Huchet
VFX Supervisor :
Vincent Venchiarutti
Shoot Supervisor :
Damien Canameras
CG Supervisor :
Guillaume Ho
CG Supervisor :
Tsong Fang
VFX Producer :
Kahina Lamblin
Animation :
Clotilde Blondel
Rigging :
Marine Sisnaki
FX :
Karim Lachaize
Lighting/Compositing :
Marouan El Bekri
Lighting/Compositing :
Matthias Barday
Motion Design :
Vincent Ewald
Motion Design :
Alexandre Tarquini
Concept Design :
Alain Descamps
Flame :
Valentin Gingembre
Composer :
Ludovico Einaudi
Publisher :
Chester Music Ltd.
Performer :
Ludovico Einaudi
Performer :
Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra
Conductor :
Robert Ziegler
Label/Producer :
Ponderosa Music Records
Cast :
Hanane Belhouari
Cast :
Jackson Bews
Cast :
Erika Kuttner Perreau
Cast :
Genevieve Dunne
Cast :
Sami Amber
Cast :
Tim Bartholomew
Cast :
Patricia Thibault
Cast :
Isabelle Hurtin

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