Novartis Mexico

Project: Monster Pain in My Back

Turning a cry of agony into an anthem of hope 

A disease awareness campaign to help young people detect ankylosing spondylitis (AS), a rare degenerative disease. The idea featured Mexican superstar Ely Guerra who swapped her soft style for an uncharacteristically hard metal sound in a new song.

01The challenge

AS is a rare type of degenerative arthritis that silently affects young people. Without treatment, it progresses until the spine fuses together, causing irreversible damage. The challenge is that it’s very hard to recognize, and only 1 in 20 people with AS receive a timely diagnosis. To alert millions of the “monster” they had never heard about, we convinced a pop superstar to change her melodic style to heavy metal and garner attention.

02The solution

We created Monster Pain in My Back — an integrated strategy including digital, creative and PR — to drive awareness of ankylosing spondylitis in an unexpected way.

A new era for disease awareness campaigns


The new single — composed specifically for the campaign and launched by Mexican superstar Ely Guerra — talked about the pain and anxiety that AS causes and the journey toward the hope of a regular life thanks to a correct diagnosis and treatment. We also produced a video, which visually depicted the darkness of uncertainty and the light of hope experienced by those facing the condition.

03The impact

From years … to just minutes

Throughout the campaign, we leveraged patient-based evidence with engaging stories, raising the urgency to treat the disease. In this way, if a patient was identified as having AS symptoms, they could connect with a nearby rheumatologist through a database of doctors and effectively reduce the time needed for diagnosis. We shortened the patient diagnosis journey of 8 to 10 years to mere minutes.

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