It Was Cool Back Then


If That Was You Then

Blowing out the stigma of lung cancer screenings.

Lung cancer accounts for 25% of all US cancer deaths—more than prostate, breast, colorectal, and liver cancers combined. Screening can detect lung cancer in its earliest stages where there’s a ~90% rate of survival, yet national screening rates remain under 10%. Why? After decades of culture blaming and telling smokers “it was their choice”, people at risk are too ashamed to get scanned. With no existing media budget, Genetech needed to erase this cultural stigma to help save lives.

Back then we all smoked


In the 70s and 80s, you could smoke everywhere because it was an expected part of culture. On planes, in restaurants, in the movie theaters — anywhere you went, someone was lighting up a cigarette. To be included meant to smoke, so everyone did, even doctors. Tapping into this, using footage and sounds of the time, Genetech’s emotive storytelling removed long standing stigmas surrounding those who smoked.

Fierce Pharma
Genentech, American Cancer Society flash back to the ’70s in PSA to destigmatize lung cancer, encourage screenings.
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Genentech’s efforts helped former and current smokers put out their guilt and shame, starting with a 21% increase in viewers asking their doctors about screenings. But the results were more than hot air –52% made plans for a screening, and a 16% increase in national screening awareness. Now, thousands of people’s futures won’t be cut short by their past.

$50+ million

In donated media


Awareness increase



“By transporting viewers “back to a time when smoking was simply part of everyday life,” the PSA aims to encourage people to learn more about routine screenings “without attaching judgment to any prior smoking history,”
Angie Wilson, Senior director for patient advocacy relations for Roche’s Genentech
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