BBDO New York partnerd with Flight School and Facebook to bring St Jude's patients stories to life with VR
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 now available on Facebook and starting December 6th the experience will be available 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 and their story. 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 organisation for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. "For the past 50 years, the modernisation 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, lead 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. A full description of the program is available here.
Donations directed toward St. Jude through these efforts will help ensure that families never receive a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing or food – because all a family should worry about is helping their child live.