The Imaginary Friend Society

The Imaginary Friend Society

Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation and RPA debut 20 short films helping kids understand cancer.

The Imaginary Friend Society

A cancer diagnosis is a scary and confusing experience for anyone, especially children. Each year, 4,600 children and teenagers are diagnosed with a primary brain or central nervous system tumor.

And yet, the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation (PBTF), the world's largest nonprofit solely dedicated to the pediatric brain tumor community, started seeing their donations and visibility wane. In response, the PBTF wanted a fresh approach to help revive their cause. As a “People First” agency, we were honored to help and contribute to their efforts.

Introducing the Imaginary Friend Society

After a diagnosis, the cancer process gets complicated for kids. Fighting cancer is hard enough. But the terminology, doctor’s visits, and procedures make it even harder. We learned that many kids who survived cancer relied on an imaginary friend as a coping mechanism during long hospital stays.

This coping mechanism became our inspiration.

Introducing the Imaginary Friend Society, a fictitious group of characters who appear in a series of 20 animated films helping kids understand and cope with the hardships of a cancer diagnosis and its treatment. These films cover everything from “What is an MRI?” to “Blood Transfusions” and “Feeling Sad.” We also developed an interactive experience for the siblings of cancer patients to better understand their feelings during this difficult time.

What is an MRI?

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Feeling Sad

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Returning to School

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Blood Transfusions

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View all 20 films

The films launched at the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation’s Starry Night 5K at Griffith Park in Los Angeles on September 24, 2017, during Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.

You can view all the films on the website.

“These films help us care for families going through their cancer journey by playfully explaining difficult aspects of cancer care in a way kids understand,” said Robin Boettcher, president and CEO of the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation.

This pro bono, global film project was the culmination of many talented animation, music, and sound-design partners from around the world. Each partner created their own imaginary friend and produced a different cancer-related video with a script written by us.

Share Your Imaginary Friend

We’re inviting everyone to submit a drawing of their own imaginary friend.

We created a submission page on the Imaginary Friend Society webpage as well as the ability to submit a drawing on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter with posts tagged #ImaginaryFriendSociety.

Submitted drawings will be used to create dolls, coloring books, journals, and motivational posters that will be available in 2018. The PBTF also plans to develop motion-capture medical-assistance technology using imaginary friends, as well as hospital-based augmented-reality experiences designed to lessen the fear of impending procedures.