Novartis taps celeb dancer and 'Ellen' show DJ to headline Adakveo social challenge

So you think you can dance—for Adakveo? Novartis’ latest campaign asks people to bust a move to raise awareness around sickle cell anemia and its branded treatment.

Led by well-known hip-hop dancer Stephen “tWitch” Boss, who also appears on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" as a DJ, the “Do U” campaign invites the public to create their own version of a dance he choreographed for the project. People can submit their videos to the campaign website,, for a chance to be featured on Adakveo’s website or social media and partner influencer channels.

Novartis calls it the first dance challenge ever launched by a prescription pharmaceutical brand.

“Sickle cell disease brings pain, and pain crises with it. We wanted a social challenge, with this social dance challenge, that recognizes the community, but that also allows us to highlight Adakveo,” Kristen Harrington-Smith, Novartis vice president and head of U.S. hematology, said.

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Adakveo, approved last November, is the first targeted therapy to prevent painful vaso-occlusive crises that come with sickle cell disease.

While tWitch’s dance challenge debuted in the spring—it was posted to his twitchtok7 account on TikTok with 3.3 million followers—the challenge was reignited this month at the annual conference of the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America. The choreographer performed in a live video karaoke dance challenge with others and announced the added bonus of a chance to be featured in the Do U campaign.

While tWitch does not have the condition, he is an advocate. In the intro, he notes he is “passionate about celebrating the strength and resilience of those living with sickle cell disease, which disproportionately affects those in the African-American community.”

Ninety percent of the 100,000 people living with sickle cell in the U.S. are African American.

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The challenge inspired more than 200 user-generated video posts with the #DoUChallenge hashtag, including even one from a patient who recorded her version while in the hospital. Novartis has also tracked a fourfold increase in traffic to the Adakveo website since the campaign began and almost unilaterally favorable (94%) social media comments in support.

“The comments to me are so inspirational. With people doing these dances, again, it’s not about who does it best, it’s about showing support and the movement, the freedom. As (tWitch) always says, ‘you do you,’” Harrington-Smith said.