Acerta Pharma (A member of the AstraZeneca Group)
Key Areas
Corporate storytelling
Tradeshow interactive booth design and development
MOA script development, animation, and post-production
Clinical Trial Branding, website, and patient materials
AMI Award of Merit
Rx Club Award of Excellence

Elevating Acerta Pharma’s lead molecule to new heights

The challenge

“We have to approach this like Stanley Kubrick would – we need to tell the story of a transcendence in the way we think about treating CLL and the next level or second-generation approach – ACP-196,” Wayne Rothbaum, Chairman of the Board proclaimed. “This is about storytelling and elevating the thinking of doctors beyond ibrutinib. Our script, visual design, sound, and sequencing will be critical to this entire concept working. Are you ready for the creative challenge?

The outcome…challenge accepted

Cognition covered all facets of ideation, development, and finessing of what became heralded by many as the ASH 2015 gem and the ‘un-booth’ because of its simplicity compared to other booths.

From creative research into the mind of Stanley Kubrick’s cult classic 2001: A Space Odyssey, to deep scientific research into B-cell malignancies and Btk signaling, Cognition crafted an engaging teaser and MOA pre-clinical animation plus a fully interactive clinical trial experience contained within a scale model of the monolith.


Acceleration of science to market is something we eat, breathe, and sleep at Cognition. The storytelling solutions we create serve as bridges of understanding for target audiences. We’ve visualized therapeutics, devices and diagnostics from Discovery to Trial to Commercialization… and each has their own unique and memorable story. One of our recent memorable science stories was giving an identity, agency and prime time presence at ASH 2015 to a stealth-mode small molecule called acalabrutinib (ACP-196). This highly selective, irreversible, second generation BTK inhibitor was going to, and did, put Acerta on the map.

“The Year’s Best VC Deal Was for a Company You’ve Never Heard of,” Fortune Magazine exclaimed, calling it the unicorn startup of the year. Founded in Netherlands in 2012 to develop treatments for cancers and autoimmune diseases, Acerta Pharma ran in stealth mode, driving investors and over 20 clinical trials for monotherapy and in combination with other targeted molecules.

The Bruton tyrosine kinase (Btk) enzyme is a critical target for ACP-196 as its signaling is implicated in chronic lymphocytic leukemia. Btk was identified as an immersive visual for one of the three unique attract loops that would awaken the booth’s 12’ screen when the teaser or full animation was not playing.

“Thank you again for all your help. You were invaluable and really made a huge difference.” – Wayne Rothbaum, Acerta Pharma, Board Chair

To encourage tradeshow attendees’ engagement with the booth, Cognition crafted an interactive walkthrough of Acerta Pharma’s Elevate Clinical Trials and oncology pipeline. This included designing the information architecture, the interactive interfaces, and crafting collateral materials for a fully-tailored booth experience.

Our journey with Acerta began in Q3’14, supporting a small team with grand ideas and a gladiator molecule. During this time, Cognition served as agency-of-record working closely with the core executive and science team to help communicate their mission, visualizing how acalabrutinib works, and its potential global impact for the patient.

Today, Acerta is >200 strong and is a leader in the field of covalent binding technology to create novel, highly selective therapies for cancer. Acerta’s lead molecule, acalabrutinib (ACP-196), is a highly selective, irreversible, second generation Btk inhibitor. Acerta is also developing ACP-319, a novel isoform-selective inhibitor of phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K) delta. In February 2016, AstraZeneca acquired a majority share of Acerta Pharma via a USD $4 billion investment and is a committed partner to the development of these innovative drug candidates.


Our aim: Clarity of the science to imprint value and build understanding.

Partners: The Taylor Group » Booth design, fabrication, drayage, and onsite support


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