Here’s something to think about: Were it not for the present arrangement of your brain cells, nerves, and spinal column, you might just as well be someone else.

Memories, experiences, feelings, skills (whether it’s the way you throw a ball or negotiate a deal)—none of that happens without your very own brain and spine. It’s a bit unsettling to realize that the person you think you are is dependent on the proper functioning of your central nervous system. Unsettling—but potentially awe-inspiring.

Awe is at the center of our multichannel advertising campaign for Goodman Campbell Brain and Spine—one of the nation’s leading neurosurgical practices. Presented with dreamlike attention to the worlds of their subjects, the sights and sounds of this campaign pay homage to the unique and irreplaceable connections in your brain, spine, and nervous system—what makes you you.

 

To bring this patient-centered campaign to life, we wanted to use real people—not stand-ins. We knew from our past work with Goodman Campbell how many ardent fans they have among their former patients, so we weren’t surprised to find so many who were eager to speak to us. The surprise was just how moving each and every one of their stories was.

During the spring of 2020, we spoke to nearly two dozen people. We spoke to people who had been unable to take part in activities they’d once dearly loved. To people whose personalities had changed to the point where their loved ones only half recognized them. To people who’d nearly lost their lives. Whatever it was they’d lost or nearly lost—each person had gotten it back thanks to the physicians at Goodman Campbell Brain and Spine.

The initial interviews—conducted by phone or Zoom in May and June—took place during what felt like a season of universal loss to the coronavirus pandemic. During these brief conversations with patients, the news of that world receded, eclipsed by deeply personal stories of loss, recovery, and the wonders of medical science and its impact on the human experience. Not just one but several patients used words like “miracle” and “unbelievable” to describe the transformation they’d undergone since treatment.

To achieve the look and feel we envisioned for the visual aspect of the campaign, we partnered with Bayonet Media, whose documentary film Pressing On: The Letterpress Film we enjoyed as a creative team when it was spotlighted at the Heartland Film Festival. Stephen Hill took the portrait and candid photographs. We also had a little assist from Mother Nature—in the form of six straight days with nearly no rain.

The rest of the campaign came together thanks to our spotlight patients: Ginger, Jay, Ryan, and Elsa. They gave us their time, invited us into their lives, let us scout their homes and their haunts, and put up with endless requests for just “one more take.” (Trade secret: It’s never just one more take.)

 

The doctors who volunteered to go in front of the camera brought their best bedside manners and gamely agreed with our request that they play the heroes that they truly are.

You can see all of the patients’ stories on the newly designed GoodmanCampbell.com. (Yeah, we made that, too; it’s been a busy year!) Look for more patient stories in the months ahead and check out more of the campaign work here.