First Citizens Bank



Here’s what we knew about cancer: It sucks for everyone who has it.

Here’s what we didn’t know about cancer: It sucks extra for teens who have it.

Why? Because they get caught in a bind. Either they get their treatment in children’s hospitals or they get it with the full-grown adults. So they find themselves – at this uniquely vulnerable time in their lives – with little kids or (mostly) old people.

That’s because, in this country, very few hospitals have created units dedicated to the treatment and recovery of teens and young adults.

Which is why there’s a Teen Cancer America.

In 2015, our client First Citizens Bank signed on as a major corporate sponsor of Teen Cancer America. In no small part because of the sales pitch they got from one of TCA’s founders: A guy named Roger Daltrey.

Yes, the Roger Daltrey – rock star – who’s  been the front man for The Who north of 50 years now. He and bandmate Pete Townshend started Teen Cancer America in 2012, modeling it after a similar organization in Great Britain. Their reason for doing this was simple: For years, young people have been an important part of their audience; TCA was a way to do something important in return.

As a sponsor, First Citizens has made significant donations to underwrite TCA facilities in its major markets, helped raise additional funds and put a lot of communication weight behind the effort to raise awareness for what is still a young charity.

Our role has been helping them craft that message.

First Citizens advertising about TCA started during the 2015 holiday season. We had an idea to make the whole thing about the importance of young people finding a physical place where they would be surrounded by people like them and nurtured in a positive, caring environment. Our brand television campaign for First Citizens at the time was music-based (you can see those spots here). So working with a charity involving The Who, we started by looking at Who songs. But ended up creating something new that’s better described as Who-adjacent.

There’s this solo song Pete Townshend had a really big hit with back in 1980, off his Empty Glass album. “Let My Love Open The Door.” It’s a great song and made the U.S. top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100. And the message couldn’t be any better for our needs.

Only we had something different in mind. Call it Pete-adjacent.

Our idea was to get Roger Daltrey to cover the Pete Townshend solo song, feature that in TV and radio, make “Open The Door” the theme of the launch campaign and even make the track available for download as a charity fundraiser.

Turns out, all of that’s exactly what happened. Go figure!

Roger recorded the song. If you read the papers back then, you would have known he had a big and serious medical issue in 2015. Recording this song was literally the first work thing he did when the doctor said he could go back to work. Which meant we were able to make our campaign launch around the Thanksgiving holiday. Good on him.

We shot a gorgeous TV spot to explain to people what Teen Cancer America was all about, using (seriously) the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears as the narrative model: Too young, too old, just right. Jeffrey DeChausse, who directed all of our music- and narrative-based TV for First Citizens, directed this as well (supported by the great team he always assembles). And the voiceover was from our great campaign voice talent, Jason Watt.

This spot was just the beginning. Through the years, we’ve helped First Citizens shine a light on TCA in many ways, a small portion of which is featured here.

In 2020, we created new television, featuring unscripted interviews with young people who have been through cancer and are now part of the Teen Cancer America family. In their stories, you’ll find a lot to think about.