The Best Work You May Never See: BBDO, Facebook, Flight School Team On St. Jude Hall of Heroes


Robert Goldrich
Monday, Dec. 30, 2019


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Inspired by the bravery and resilience of the children being treated at St. Jude, the St. Jude Hall of Heroes experience imagines patients as larger than life superheroes. Viewers hear directly from patients and their families, celebrating their stories and spreading awareness of childhood cancer and other life-threatening diseases. The experience is set on floating islands—each island with statues 60 feet tall, each one unique in representing a St. Jude patient and their story.

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital® has partnered with Facebook to launch the St. Jude Hall of Heroes, a virtual reality experience inspired by St. Jude patients and brought to life by creative agencies BBDO New York and Flight School. A 360 video of the experience narrated by actor Patrick Warburton is available on Facebook and for demo on Oculus Quest devices exclusively in select Best Buy stores. The VR experience will debut on the Oculus platform in early 2020.

The St. Jude Hall of Heroes features floating islands, each with a unique 60-foot tall statue representing a St. Jude patient. The experience allows viewers to explore the islands, walk up to the statues and hear directly from patients and their families, celebrating the noble stories of real St. Jude patients who fought for their lives against childhood cancer and other life-threatening diseases.

“The rapid acceleration of VR technology allows for the exciting reimagination of the way we tell stories, connect with communities, raise funds and drive fundamental change,” said Richard Shadyac Jr., president and CEO of ALSAC, the fundraising and awareness organization for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. “For the past 50 years, the modernization of science and research technologies have enabled St. Jude to fund and advance cures for pediatric life-threatening diseases. St. Jude Hall of Heroes is inspired by that spirit of leading edge change and puts the focus on the real heroes among us, our brave St. Jude patients.”

The project, spearheaded by Facebook and Oculus from Facebook, was a nearly year-long effort that sought to challenge the creative and technology industries to tackle to use the power of VR and social presence as a force for good in the fight against childhood cancer.

“We’ve only just begun to explore the creative potential of VR – to share stories, to build worlds, and connect people,” said Eric Oldrin, director of emerging platforms at Facebook. “St Jude Hall of Heroes does all three in a celebration of bravery that we hope inspires people to support their cause - but also to continue this uncharted journey of creativity through virtual reality.”

St. Jude Hall of Heroes was chosen from a number of ideas considered and reviewed back in June at the Cannes International Festival of Creativity.

“This is a great example of using the immersion of VR to connect with people on a deeper level. Expect your Oculus lenses to flood with tears,” said Tom Markham, executive creative director at BBDO New York.

The St. Jude Hall of Heroes not only shares each patient’s actual story of perseverance, but also allows viewers to learn about their personal lives and interests with real-life anecdotes, including how playing the guitar helped patient Caleb take his mind off the side effects of chemotherapy and why patient Matthew is known as the “mayor” of St. Jude. 
This introductory short film invites us to spend some time in the St. Jude Hall of Heroes.


Client St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital Agency BBDO New York David Lubars, chief creative officer, worldwide; Greg Hahn, chief creative officer, NY; Tom Markham, EVP, executive creative director; Martin Staaf, sr. art director; Vishal Dheiman, VP, head of innovation; Chava Quinn, interactive producer; Andrew Osborne, director; Crystal Rix, chief strategy officer; David Role, director of integrated production; Nick Russo, front end engineer; Jimmy McGee, QA manager; Sandi Spino, jr. copywriter.  Facebook Rebecca Van Dyck, CMO, AR/VR; Eric Oldrin, director, emerging platforms; Paula Cuneo, partner & strategic managing director; Eric Laurence, client partner; Dave Surgan, creative agency partner; Lauren Burmaster, partner & experience marketing manager; Kristen Carlson, director, global creative councils; Jaclyn Pollack, event marketer; Melissa Grisby, project manager; Neisha Tweed Bell, vertical lead; Annie Foster, Kissa Fernandez, Jeremy Smallwood, Bruno Maugery, Jill Applebaum, creative strategists; Frances Smith, Tim Hubner, designers; Caitlin Tran, Annie Porter, producers. Mila Fang Xia, creative researcher.  Flight School Limbert Fabian, co-founder/executive creative director; Taylor Williams, executive producer; Matthew Baughman, producer; Julia Gibson, associate producer.

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