Bristol Myers creates dark and stark film about the experience of living with serious diseases

Bristol Myers Squibb has adopted a raw, art house documentary vibe for its latest campaign, creating a two-minute video that profiles six patients living with a range of serious diseases around the world. 

The “Living” campaign centers on a video BMS created with Human and showed at South by Southwest 2023. The video opens with a few seconds of a black screen as a male voice-over says, “we are going to stop her heart and restart it.” That sets the tone for an unusually dark and stark video that is only lightened with moments of defiance and hope toward the end. 

After a few seconds of black screen, the first thing we see is an extreme close-up of two people holding hands as the voice-over continues, explaining that her heart “was beating so fast that they had to stop it to get back into a normal rhythm.”

As we are introduced to the next patient profiled in the video, the words “Bristol Myers Squibb presents” appear on the screen. That is the only branding in the video, although the content is aligned with BMS’ portfolio. Short written profiles of the patients explain that their conditions include hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and gastric cancer, diseases treated by BMS drugs such as Camzyos and Opdivo.

The focus of the video itself remains firmly on the patient, not the drugs, though. Each patient briefly explains how they were initially affected by their condition, with the person who suffered a pulmonary embolism explaining how they “remember falling down” and “waking up with a paramedic” over them. The patients live around the world and in several cases are subtitled in English.

As the video reaches its halfway point, the strings swell and the tone starts to lift a little as one patient says while it is “overwhelming when you first hear this diagnosis,” there are “scientists and doctors who are discovering great things and can help you.” Other patients discuss their faith, hope and endurance as we see them crying but also living their lives and in a series of photos with their families. 

The video closes with two people walking hand in hand through an archway of trees as the word “Living” flashes up over the entire screen. The word stays on-screen as the background turns to black before it too fades out in the final seconds of the film.