Coping with head and neck cancer

Head and neck cancer can be a devastating disease. Before diagnosis, it is so easy for us to take the simple, every-day things we do for granted – like eating, drinking, or, showing our loved ones how much we care with a gentle kiss. This spot illustrates the powerful impact head and neck cancers can have on these simple actions.

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center commissioned the spot via Pentagram Design. The aim is to raise awareness of Head & Neck cancers with the hope of increasing early diagnosis and treatment, mitigating the life changing symptoms.

Kong studio lovingly brought Todd Selby’s naïve yet haunting hand panted images to life with pain-stacking attention to detail. The subtle boil and movement techniques developed specifically for this spot breathes life into the sad starring faces, enhancing the foreboding of the narrative, which is sensitively voiced by Pentagram’s own Ashley Johnson.

Kong co-founder Tom Baker says :

“The whole animation hinged on bringing the lovely paintings from Todd to life in a way that did not undermine the serious message of the piece. The illustrations are deceptively simple, and it’s often tricky to animate something that looks simple without the end result looking too naïve. We found by keeping the movements subtle and matching very closely the tactility of the brush strokes we were able to breathe life into the faces in “grown-up” way that matched the sombre tone of the spot. We’ve not done anything quite like this before and we’re really happy with the result.”

This poignant story leaves the viewer stunned, subdued and uneasy, a suitable response for a dreadful disease.


Client :

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center via Pentagram Design

Credits :

Illustrator : Todd Selby

Animation : Kong Studio

Additional Credits:

Naresh Ramchandani

Lizzie Reid

Ailbhe Larkin

Ashley Johnson

Zuleika Sedgley

Chloe Ting