AstraZeneca wanted to transform understanding of severe asthma – a distinct form of the condition that can devastate the lives of those who suffer from it.

Recognition of the condition is low: Often patients don’t receive the specialist care they require, and policymakers view asthma as long ‘sorted’.

Working with an award-winning documentary maker, we produced an emotive and disruptive short film – BREATHLESS – coupled with social micro-targeting, which shone a light life with severe asthma, and the opportunities which exist to improve care around the world.

Rules of

in Action

Rule Two

Passions and influencers spread ideas

We partnered with the leading global respiratory patient group (GAAPP) to give the campaign credibility and an emotional weight, but also to engage at scale with patients and the patient advocacy community – calling on policymakers around the world to reform care for severe asthma patients.


BREATHLESS tells the story of three severe asthma patients in three countries – each with starkly different experiences of the complex systems governing care.

A dedicated website and short-form BREATHLESS content (including a call to action film, social media teasers and a trailer) was released to mark World Asthma Day 2019.

This powerful and highly ambitious content disrupted the traditional public policy recipe of report, roundtable and press release – providing the severe asthma community with a platform to engage directly with the often hard-to-reach audience of respiratory health policymakers and policy influencers.


BREATHLESS has contributed to important early successes in driving policy reform in Germany, the UK, Canada and Japan.

  • BREATHLESS content was viewed by over 2.5 million people.
  • More than 400 policymakers across 8 countries viewed the campaign – with 200+ actions (downloads of microsite briefing or connection with a local PAG) taken.