How we helped a global brand connect with their audience by challenging the stigma of Type 1 diabetes

Though they’re one of the biggest producers of diabetes technology in the world, the people living with diabetes using this technology were unfamiliar with the brand itself. To them it was ‘simply a device’ even though it was keeping them alive. A campaign was needed to increase brand awareness and build positive and lasting brand sentiment among those with Type 1.

a woman sits on a yellow bed while keeping a blue balloon in the air

The Brief

Type 1 diabetes is criminally misunderstood. Often confused with the more common Type 2, it has nothing to do with diet or lifestyle. It’s invisible, exhausting to manage, and cruelly complex to explain to others.

Our campaign sought to use the platform of a global healthcare giant to help remedy these frustrations. To empower people with diabetes with a tool to help them explain what their life is really like, perhaps for the first time.

It was a creative strategy built on true audience understanding. All to tackle ignorance, redefine a disease, and in-turn, reposition a brand in a marketplace.

photo of a child colouring a picture of people doing the blue balloon challenge

Strategy & Insights

To truly understand life with diabetes we spoke first-hand to people with T1D across Europe and the Middle East. They told us how it wasn’t just a lack of insulin affecting their lives, but the ignorance of others. There was visceral anger at the general public’s confusion between Type 1 and Type 2, and frustration at their own inability to adequately explain their daily burden. To help articulate this, one insight stood out—

Diabetes is boring. Constant calorie counting; finger pricks; on your mind; day and night. And it’s forever. A life-sentence of monotony. Yet, it can kill you. One miscalculation can be serious. Imagine carrying that with you, every day.

A strategy became clear—reframe the thinking from a brand who supports diabetes sufferers with technology, to one who empowers them to combat misunderstanding for themselves, opening the world’s eyes to a life that’s both monotonous and lethal.

The Idea

Our answer was a simple, universal metaphor:

Living with diabetes is like having to keep a balloon in the air.

Easy at first, but imagine having to do it every hour, every day. Then consider; you cannot drop it. This is life with diabetes.

The balloon became the symbol we needed. It was easy to adopt, clear in all languages, could be localised globally, empowers people to tell their own stories, was unique to the brand and rooted in our insight of monotony and lethality.

The concept was brought to life as the T1D Balloon Challenge. A digital campaign inviting people with Type 1 to highlight what they manage every day, with a blue balloon. Kick-started by a hyper-targeted short film and promoted by well-known diabetes influencers, the campaign then grew organically through user-generated stories.


During week one of the original campaign, which was shown across Europe, the launch film hit 1,000,000 views (500,000 organically). Search for ‘diabetes’ increased 91%, and their traffic increased 187%. Across the campaign we reached 61.5m people (only half relied on paid media) and 3,100 took part in the challenge—far exceeding targets.

Crucially for business impact, 20% of the 1.5 million people with T1D in EME recalled the campaign months later. 99% of patient feedback was positive and brand sentiment improved 20 points to 61%. For the brand, and for such a sensitive topic, this was unprecedented.

Months later, blue balloon had embedded itself within global diabetes culture, adopted by sports stars, international charities and even used in the Mexican Parliament to advocate for T1D support. Even competitor ambassadors took part in the challenge.

The greatest achievement was human impact. Hundreds said it was the first time they had been able to adequately explain their burden to loved ones.

The campaign was so successful, the brand has now doubled down, relaunching the campaign across the US and beyond.

  • 3,000+

    Earned ‘Balloon Challenge’ Social Posts

  • 91%

    Search Increase for ‘Diabetes’

  • 20%

    Ad Recall Amount People With T1D

  • 99%

    Positive Community Feedback

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