Three innovative creative campaigns from Cancer Dojo's Conn Bertish
Conn Bertish is a cancer survivor, founder and CEO of Cancer Dojo, a mobile app that gamifies the world’s most feared disease.

Before beginning work on Cancer Dojo, Conn was the Creative Director at some of South Africa’s most respected creative agencies. Conn consults as a Creative and Purpose Strategist for brands, organisations and individuals facing seemingly insurmountable challenges. He is also an international keynote speaker on the intersection of creativity, technology and resilience.

At ADCE Festival, Conn will present ‘Why dying made me a better creative by showing the role and power of creativity in a world under stress. We asked him to share three of his projects that demonstrate his approach to creativity and innovation.

1. The My First Book Project

“I started experimenting with ways to put my learning into practice by connecting people with a relevant problem they could easily solve through the positive use of their innate skills.

The My First Book Project succeeded on two counts: 1000s of kids benefited from the repurposed books, yet hundreds of the creators of the books benefited just as much: by emotionally galvanizing groups under a shared and common purpose.

Positive purpose releases not only dopamine into your system, but is actually shown to strengthen immune function, focus and productivity.”

2. World Design Capital – Cape Town

“I explored ‘design thinking’ during my tenure as creative director of the interesting World Design Capital Cape Town event.

Developing nations like South Africa are great design thinkers, because we have many social challenges to solve, but not a lot of resources available. Hence we’ve learned to be resourceful and ‘design think’ as a culture.

As upcycling is in our blood, the event unearthed inspirational ideas and hacks from the some of the poorest communities, who find simple, clever ways to bypass a problem and make a plan, regardless of the challenging conditions they face.

This period further informed my thinking.”

3. Cancer Dojo

“Two years after beating my cancer, I resigned from my job as creative director of Africa’s, then largest digital agency, to launch my idea of empowering patients – because I believed ‘patient helplessness’ was a problem I could help solve.

Medicine needs to harness the innate healing qualities of humans; to help them generate the best possible results. To do this we need to humanize medicine and make it user-friendly enough to activate and effect the human immune function – and this is now possible.

Thanks to studies in neuroscience, we know that creativity, play and purpose, have beneficial effects, not only on the human immune system, but on our psychological resilience, stress relief, productivity and agility of thinking.

We also know that specific techniques of creativity thinking can enable our brains to positively overcome fear, inhibition, pain and other inherent baggage. These insights reflect how creativity used correctly, can literally makes us harder to kill.

Cancer Dojo aims to increase the global survival rate while decreasing its burden of cost — by empowering patients to build their own resilience and become happier, healthier and harder to kill.”


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‘Rewiring the Creative Machine’ is the thread running through the ADCE Festival’s conferences, workshops and networking opportunities. Tickets are now on sale, with special discounts for students and ADCE members.


Industry leaders will look into the transformation of the creative process
8 hands-on workshops aimed to delve into the singularities of the creative process
Take a look at our programme to plan your schedule.