Responses by Ivan Blotta, group creative director, EVERSANA INTOUCH.
Background: In the United States, studies show that breast cancer care is not equal, with Black women being 42 percent more likely to face mortality when compared to White women. A key contributor to this disparity is the unconscious bias among healthcare providers—also known as implicit or hidden bias—which is the underlying attitudes and stereotypes we unconsciously attribute to a group of people. But little has been done to change this reality. We wanted to make doctors aware of this disparity and help open their eyes to any blind spots and procedural issues that could be unknowingly perpetuating the problem.
Design thinking: Because our audience consisted of doctors, nurses and hospital staff, we knew we needed a bold approach to capture their attention and prompt them to act.
First, we captured raw, bold portraits of women who were negatively affected by discrimination in their breast cancer care, with the inequality symbol painted across their breasts in white—highlighting the disparity in outcomes between White and Black women. We intentionally kept the images unadulterated to convey the women’s resilience from navigating a biased healthcare system, as well as their vulnerability from openly sharing their bodies and scars.
Shown at the bottom of the posters is the message: “How unequal is breast cancer care for Black women? Scan to find out.” The answer to this question is hidden to spark curiosity and mimic the hidden bias from doctors. When scanning the QR code, an immersive AR experience activates to show hard-hitting facts about the biases Black women face and takes users to a microsite where they can learn even more, sign up for unconscious bias training and obtain important resources.
The campaign was also accompanied by a short film featuring the three breast cancer survivors who also appeared in the posters to further bring the message to life and emphasize the urgency of the cause. Telling the story from their point of view really helped create more empathy and make an emotional connection between doctors and patients.
Challenges: We asked several hospitals to display our campaign in their lobbies; however, they all declined or dismissed the request. Even though this was extremely discouraging to everyone, we refused to give up or be ignored. So, our approach changed from indoors to outdoors: we placed the campaign right outside hospital doors on bus shelters that dotted the commuting lines hospital employees were likely to travel. This sudden change of plans led to an unexpected outcome: we not only got healthcare professionals to interact with the campaign and sign up for training, but we also informed people from all walks of life about a greater need for support and advocacy.
Favorite details: We are very proud how powerful the portraits turned out and how it gave women featured in the posters hope for a future where everyone has access to quality care, regardless of race or ethnicity.
New lessons: Although we hear “not everything will go as planned” all the time, we really got to experience it during the making of this campaign. We learned we had to quickly improvise to keep the project alive.
Also, getting doctors to talk publicly about unconscious bias has been very challenging. Unconscious bias is extremely difficult to address, especially when you don’t realize you have it.
Specific project demands: The sudden change of plans from displaying the campaign inside hospitals and being declined to mapping out bus shelters in high-traffic areas near hospitals was our biggest challenge. It made the project much harder to execute, but it was well worth it in the end.