AbbVie, Sanofi, Haleon and more back hard-hitting Publicis campaign aimed at ending the stigma of cancer at work

Healthcare communications agency Publicis is running a new “Working With Cancer” campaign as it looks to destigmatize the disease in the workplace.

This is a deeply personal campaign for the company as it comes nearly a year after Publicis’ CEO Arthur Sadoun was diagnosed with, and treated for, cancer.

He went public with his condition but explains in a release that he “received thousands of testimonies that exposed the fear those with cancer experienced, not only for their lives, but also for their jobs,” and wanted to try to reverse this stigma.

Looking into the often taboo subject of cancer and work, the agency said it found half of cancer patients are afraid to tell their employer about their diagnosis, despite 92% feeling that support at work positively impacts their health.

Funded by the Publicis Foundation, "Working With Cancer" launches as a cross-industry coalition with the backing of multiple pharmas including AbbVie, Sanofi, Merck & Co. and Haleon as well tech giants Google and Microsoft and some major oncology centers in Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, MacMillan Cancer Support and the Gustave Roussy Institute.

"Working With Cancer" was officially launched at the Davos World Economic Forum this month, and the campaign has several elements. First is an official pledge to do more to help cancer patients when working and a call for companies to join this pledge at

“On this platform, each company will be able to outline their own commitments to cancer patients in their organizations,” the agency explained in its release.

Publicis is taking the first step in outlining its own pledge that includes providing cancer patients with full job security for at least one year and bringing the necessary career support for them and for caregivers in its organization.

There is also a specific online awareness campaign called "Work/Life" that comes with a hard-hitting video on YouTube depicting workers struggling to navigate the everyday stresses and strains of their job alongside their cancer diagnoses.

It shows one woman giving a presentation at work while thinking that this is “the worst day of her life,” while another scene shows an ostensibly confident looking man giving a speech to an audience, but then we learn he “just threw up in the bathroom” from his cancer treatment.  

For World Cancer Day on Feb. 4, "Working with Cancer" will also launch what it calls a “mass media wake-up call” aimed at getting more companies to back its pledge. And it has a massive financial arsenal to do it, adding that it has $100 million in media “that has been generously donated by partners around the world.”

“It is a tough reality, but whether directly or indirectly, every one of us will have to confront cancer in our lives and in our workplaces,” said Sadoun in the release.  

“Companies have a key role to play in that. By making their existing efforts more accessible and visible, together we can reduce the anxiety and stigma of cancer in the workplace and positively impact our people’s health.”