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Behind the Breakthrough

June 6, 2024

March 4, 2020

Written By:

Caitlin Vassallo


This Aurora, Colorado campus houses three unique medical institutions—Children’s Hospital Colorado, UCHealth, and the University of Colorado.  Together, they are a powerhouse of insights, inspiration, research, treatments, cures and more. Together under the Anschutz Medical Campus name, they are Colorado’s premier medical destination.

In September, Karsh Hagan had the honor of telling this campus’s story to the world. We launched one of the most innovative integrated advertising campaigns in the healthcare industry, aptly titled This is Breakthrough.

Just as these medical entities work collaboratively for the health and wellness of patients locally and across the world, they also formed an incredible partnership with Karsh Hagan as we worked together to bring to life the campus’s first-ever brand advertising campaign—all on a national scale. We knew this campaign needed to be as powerful as the challenge it presented: to bring together the three medical powerhouses as a single force in the medical community and tell the stories of the daily life-changing, world-changing breakthroughs that happen at Anschutz.

The campaign dives into the remarkable and inspiring breakthroughs being made by the bold and inventive minds on campus, and the campus-wide dedication to improving lives. The stories underscore why The University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus is one of the top medical hubs in the world—a place where the brightest brains in the nation take on the toughest diseases on the planet.


The strategy Karsh Hagan crafted for This Is Breakthrough wasn’t born on a whim. Our strategic framework was built with purpose—every choice we made was to help position the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus as a nationally recognized name.

What makes the campus so extraordinary is its entrepreneurial spirit, its dedication to research, and the sheer size of the campus. Their commitment to campus-wide collaboration has driven state-of-the-art research and fueled unprecedented medical breakthroughs. Knowing the institution as well as we did, we knew that the campaign launch would need to make not just a splash but a complete tidal wave of industry disruption.

From the inception of brand development, we created a unified name, visual identity, campus identity and signage, a powerful rallying cry, bold creative and a hardworking local and national media plan. We broke category conventions, drove awareness of doctors and researchers, and shared the story of collaboration and innovation in bringing together the entities on campus. Most importantly, we instilled a sense of pride within everyone connected to the campus and this awe-inspiring brand.


In order to create the most authentic campaign possible, we made the campus our second home so we could experience the spaces that have fueled countless medical discoveries; the classrooms where students learn from the greatest medical minds in the country; the intersections of education, research, and patient care. But what we quickly learned over the course of this journey is that filming on a working academic and medical campus could limit our access. How were we to work around a group of people who are always working—the researchers, doctors, and professionals who have jobs to do, tests to run, classes to attend, and lives to save? How could we best maneuver around patients and medical compliance in a quiet and respectful manner?

These unique circumstances called for an agile Karsh team that moved fast and was nimble enough to adjust our methods or our game plan at any moment and take advantage of every second in these locations and every precious moment that doctors could share with us.


What made this campaign so special was the willingness and eagerness of campus doctors to share their stories. Their commitment to the success of This Is Breakthrough meant they allowed us access into their lives, their labs, and even their operating rooms (of course, with patient consent and HIPAA compliance). The doctors’ stories we’ve had the opportunity to tell are a true representation of the collaborative spirit of the campus. Doctors from all three entities—Children’s Hospital Colorado, UCHealth, and the University of Colorado—coming together to show the world the power of a connected Anschutz.


One of the incredible doctors we had the opportunity to speak with, Dr. Evalina Burger-Van der Walt, allowed us to take our storytelling one step further by giving our team limited access to one of her operating rooms. In the able hands of Dr. Burger (the Orthopedics chair and a renowned spinal surgeon) we were able to capture the complexities of surgery. We were amazed to have the chance to witness a medical procedure that was invented by the woman performing it.

Dr. Burger wasn’t the only doctor who was willing and excited to show us her day-to-day accomplishments. When other doctors on campus saw what we were doing and understood why we were doing it, many more asked to be interviewed. They were excited to have a platform to share their groundbreaking work. They want to tell their stories and create an impact on the medical community and beyond. They wanted to show the world the cutting edge technologies and brilliant minds that are all housed right here in Aurora, Colorado.  


One overarching goal that both the Karsh Hagan and the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus teams shared was to create a brand identity powerful enough to unite three partners and represent their singular vision for the campus. Traditionally, advertising in the Healthcare category is crammed with wall-to-wall copy, cliches, and smiling doctors in white lab coats. We took inspiration from the unfettered, un-siloed environment in which campus employees work, and expressed it with sparse—but powerful—copy: “Walls Gone, Barriers Down, Brains Unleashed.” We paired our bold visuals with a breakthrough sci-fi look to further position the campus as a force in the medical community.

Our work has not gone unnoticed. Together, we told the story of the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. We made our name synonymous with innovation, education, and leading the future; and how these character traits make the campus more than a geographic location. Since the Fall  2019 launch of This Is Breakthrough, there have been over 6.2 million completed views of our brand awareness spot. Paid media has earned over 85 million impressions. Our campaign landing page,, has received over 82,000 visits to the page. And we are just getting started.. We’re looking forward to the successes in our second flight, launched in January, and future campaign iterations.

Ultimately, This is Breakthrough serves as a touchstone that unites doctors, faculty, staff, students, administrators, and the top medical facilities around a shared vision for what the future of healthcare looks like. Everyone who is part of this story plays a role in shaping that future. By integrating so many partners in the making of this ground-breaking effort, This is Breakthrough has sparked pride across the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus that will fuel a collective commitment to more breakthroughs, across all entities, in the future.

"Its not wether you get knocked down"


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