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5B | Johnson & Johnson | Um Studios
Download Download JPG | 3748x2657px
Industry: Beauty & Health
Media:TV & Cinema
Style: Minimalism
Why is this work relevant for Entertainment?

5B, is a feature-length documentary film combining top-tier Hollywood talent and an A-list musical soundtrack to create a moving monument to the quiet heroes who risked infection and scorn to care for an ostracized community ravaged by the horrors of the AIDS epidemic.

5B is the first-ever brand funded film to be celebrated at the Cannes Film Festival, with screenings at the San Francisco Film Festival (in partnership with the Telluride Film Festival) and Melbourne Film Festival.

The film was acquired for distribution by Verizon, making its first foray into the film industry, another watershed moment for original branded content.


Johnson & Johnson sought to introduce the world’s people to the full context of how the brand cares for them and their families from the moment they are born and throughout their entire lives. To help evolve the public’s perception of the company beyond simply “The Baby Brand,” J&J invested in a full-scale equity campaign to drive awareness of Johnson & Johnson as a multi-dimensional, multi-functional healthcare company whose products and partnerships touch all people throughout the course of their lives and influence the world in ways they never knew.

Our objective was to connect with health-conscious people who believe that everyone, even the most vulnerable, deserves quality and compassionate healthcare and get them to see J&J as the global healthcare company that boldly fights for and stands in service of even the most challenging healthcare needs of humanity.

Describe the creative idea

Johnson & Johnson recognizes the critical role played by frontline healthcare professionals in optimizing patient outcomes through quality medical care and life-changing emotional connections. It’s why for over 25 years, J&J has heavily invested in the treatment and eventual eradication of HIV/AIDS through cutting edge advancements in therapeutic medicine, via NGO partnerships in communities around the globe, and by standing alongside those who battle the disease first-hand.

As well, Johnson & Johnson has been a deeply engaged advocate of Nurses for over 132 years and regularly seeks to celebrate the groundbreaking health advances that nurses initiate every day.
Unearthing the poignant story of Ward 5B would serve as a powerful opportunity to connect J&J to the transformational advancements in HIV care, showcase its support of the nursing community, and celebrate the humanity so deeply valued within the company as it continues to change the trajectory of healthcare for humanity.

Describe the strategy

Society does not give nurses the credit they deserve as highly skilled frontline healthcare professionals who combine medical knowledge with human compassion to change patient outcomes.

We examined the cause of this misconception and found that the portrayal of nurses in popular culture as mere assistants to doctors at best and a source of derision at worst, negatively affected society’s perception of the nursing profession. In fact, we could not find any stories that positioned nurses as heroic protagonists.

We would change the perception of nurses by producing premium film and TV projects that portrayed nurses as they rightfully should be. However, to position nurses as heroes we had to find a worthy villain. When we unearthed the story of the nurses of Ward 5B, who emphasized humanity and holistic wellbeing amid the devastating AIDS crisis, we knew we had found a worthy foe.

Describe the execution

5B’s journey to the big screen required determination and ingenuity to transport viewers to a not-so-distant-past that feels like a bygone era – revealing how far society has come in treating HIV/AIDS as well as our treatment of those afflicted with the virus.

The film was greenlit in November 2016 with production beginning the following year. Key shooting of the original ward took place in the months before its scheduled demolition, paired with rescued archival footage previously thought lost. The weight of our advertising spend was used to restore reels of original footage through a painstaking rebaking process. Next, we needed to locate and receive clearance from the principal hospital staff, patients, and their loved ones to share this untold story of unsung heroes with the world.

Our efforts have already influenced Hollywood as 20th Century Fox licensed portions of recovered archival 5B footage in the film Bohemian Rhapsody.

Describe the outcome

5B premiered at the Castro Theater in November 2018, an iconic landmark of San Francisco’s LGBTQ community, with an expectation to fill the theater’s orchestra section. However, due to overwhelming interest, the balconies and mezzanine were opened to accommodate a sold-out screening.

We surveyed audiences across multiple screenings before and after the film. After watching 5B, audiences were more likely to describe nurses as:
• Heroic +12.2%
• Innovative +21.8%
• Skilled +7.6%

The film was selected for screening at the Cannes Film Festival, the first-ever brand-funded film to receive such an honor. 5B will begin a run of screenings, starting in Los Angeles, at PRIDE celebrations in 17 markets across the country.

The success of the film’s festival run led to its acquisition for distribution by Verizon to be released in 400 cinemas across the U.S. followed by a global cinematic release.
Production Company:
Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity 2019
Grand Prix Entertainment
Non-fiction Film: Over 30 minutes
Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity 2019
Gold Entertainment
Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity 2019
Shortlist Film
Local Brand
Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity 2019
Shortlist Film
Social Behaviour & Cultural Insight
Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity 2019
Shortlist Health & Wellness
Corporate Image & Communication
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