Ostomy awareness day: Transforming an audience into a community.

Abstract composition of geometric lines and circles
October 2022

What is an ostomy? And why are we writing about it?

Imagine you’ve been diagnosed with colon cancer. You’re young and have always been healthy, but suddenly doctors say you need immediate surgery. And when you wake up from that surgery, there’s a bag attached to a hole in your abdomen. Welcome to the rest of your life.

Ostomy surgery is a life-saving procedure that allows bodily waste to pass through a surgically created opening on the abdomen called a stoma. For most ostomies, a ‘pouch’ or ‘ostomy bag’ is worn over the stoma on the outside of the body to collect stool or urine. Someone may need an ostomy due to birth defects, cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, diverticulitis, incontinence or many other medical conditions. A person who has had an ostomy is called an ostomate.

Hollister, Inc. makes life more rewarding and dignified for ostomates, with ostomy products that ensure security and healthy skin. It’s been our honor at StudioNorth to help Hollister engage with their global audience with an award-winning, omnichannel campaign.

Campaign card: Ten Days Thousands of Voices, Every estimate has a voice worth hearing.
Campaign card: My Ostomy Makes it Possible For Me to Say... Finish that sentence and get a shareable card about your experience!

Ten Days, Thousands of Voices

Even if you know you’re getting an ostomy, it’s a major life change. Ostomates can face many physical and emotional challenges. While one person may consider it life-saving, another may find it a devastating experience. Will it leak? Will it smell? Will everyone know I have a stoma? How will I ever look at myself the same way again? How will I take a shower or bath? Can I be active and play sports? Will I have to change what I eat? These are just a few of their worries.

But one thing’s for sure—ostomies don’t stop most ostomates from enjoying their lives. Each person will adapt or adjust in their own way and in their own time. Life with an ostomy may be different from your life before. But many ostomates will tell you that “different” can mean “better.”

That sentiment became the core idea behind Hollister’s campaign for Ostomy Awareness Day 2020, aimed at engaging a broader audience and encouraging their participation. During the COVID-19 pandemic, with all its isolation and loss of connection, the company wanted a campaign that gave its followers greater confidence, a stronger community, and tools for virtual connection.

In honor of the 10th anniversary of Ostomy Awareness Day, the campaign Ten Days, Thousands of Voices showcased 10 influential ostomy end-users in the 10 days leading up to the event. Along with videos of these advocates speaking about skin health, quality of life, and ostomy positivity, the campaign encouraged advocates to tag Hollister for additional exposure.

The highlight of the campaign was a virtual cooking class with the chefs of Nude Dude Food, during which they prepared a meal based on skin health. Nude Dude Food was created by two lifelong best friends who now operate one of Chicago’s most sought after private dining businesses. One of the founders, Ryan Van Voorhis, lives with an ostomy, which inspired their catering business.

To encourage user-generated content and additional participation, Hollister launched a social campaign in which ostomates (including the 10 influencers) were invited to complete the sentence: “My ostomy makes it possible for me to say ….” We turned their answers into a series of life-affirming social cards that could be downloaded and shared. Below are just some of our favorites.

Campaign card: I Am More Thank My Circumstances.
Campaign card: I Can Travel to Places I Love.
Campaign card: I Can Live a Fulfilling Life Again.
Campaign card: I Get to Live Life.
Campaign card: I Have My Life Back.
Campaign card: I Am Working My Dream Job
Campaign card: I can Achieve Anything I Put my Mind to.
Campaign card: Grab Life with Both Hands!
Campaign card: I Chose an Ostomy to Give me the Best Quality of Life.
Campaign card: I Am Unique and Resilient.
Campaign card: I Am Me and Not Ashamed of My Ostomy.
Campaign card: I now live by "I Can" and "I Will".

Living life to the fullest

We compiled these cards, along with other helpful resources, into a guide for living life to the fullest with an ostomy. The booklet is filled with inspiration and practical advice on living with an ostomy from people who are doing it.

The affirmation card booklet “My life is better than I ever knew it could be” can be viewed here.

A guide for living life to the fullest with an ostomy.

Animated stickers

The campaign also included a set of animated social stickers that were not only fun, but empowering. These stickers were used on Facebook and Instagram to personalize stories and show support for ostomates. The stickers have had over 1 million views…here are some of our favorites!

Campaign card: Ostomy Awareness Day
Campaign card: No Colon Still Rollin'
Campaign card: My Ostomate Voice
Campaign card: Stronger Than You Think
Campaign card: Ostomies are Lifesavers
Campaign card: Pouch Proud
Campaign card: Living Life to the Fullest!
Campaign card: I'm an Awe-stomate!
Campaign card: World Ostomy Day
Campaign card: Living My Best Life!

Vision and results

Campaign vision: Ten Days Thousands of Voices, Every estimate has a voice worth hearing.

We collaborated with Hollister to design the entire creative vision for the campaign, which included a complete style guide that established a visual identity logo lockup, the color palette, and photography style as well.

Campaign Visual Guide: Ten Days Thousands of Voices, Every estimate has a voice worth hearing.

Below are some of the exciting results from the campaign.

Total influencer video views


More Facebook followers

Social sticker views


Increase in total ad impression from prior year


(up 445% since 2019)

We entered the Ostomy Awareness Day 2020 Campaign in the 2021 BrandSmart Awards and won the gold award for Influencer Marketing. This particular award recognizes the most effective, creative use of an influencer marketing campaign to achieve a business outcome. Pictured here is Elina Asti, Associate Programs Manager, US End User Marketing, accepting the award for Hollister, Inc.

Influencer Marketing Award
Becky Gutsell
Becky Gutsell
Art Director
Becky is a Club 78 co-leader. StudioNorth clients depend on her flair for creating emotional impact as a lead designer and art director.

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