Valley Children's Hospital


George the giraffe

Valley Children’s Healthcare, a partner with Stanford University in California, is one of the largest pediatric hospitals west of the Mississippi. With a bold vision to be the "nation's best children's hospital," we borrowed from our experience with Disney. But, instead of focusing on Mickey Mouse, we developed a patient hospitality concept around their mascot, George.

George is a giraffe, and giraffes have the largest hearts of any animal. Children connect with animals, and studies show that animal therapy can be instrumental in healing many mental as well as physical conditions.


DBA created a magical, memorable experience. As the creative agency for Disney's social media and influencer engagement, DBA used ideas from the Imagineer's handbook.

As the following video describes, we employed BDI/CDI market analysis to identify specific children's healthcare conditions. Using big data to index growth opportunities, we used an analytics-based digital media campaign to reach condition-specific patients with condition-specific messaging.

We recruited a lovable patient advocate to build culture at the children's hospital. Our team expanded on the traditional “man in a giraffe suit” — we created special engagements with George during the course of the care for children. We developed a patient pathway with emotional connections along each child’s journey.

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Our imagineers created a “card from George.” At off hours, when the George suit is not available, children still need encouragement. We designed a way for a nurse or caregiver to write a note to a child addressed from George.

Delivering a note from George can brighten a child’s day, or even get them to take their medicine.

By offering these tools to the care staff, they are guided into new hospitality experiences they would be unable to create on their own.

We introduced a book about how George goes to the hospital. Nurses and family members read the book to pediatric patients to help them overcome their fears while facing great life challenges.

George was instrumental as a vehicle to create patient experiences through social media engagement and thought-leadership content, as well as to reduce stress by integrating George’s likeness in the wayfinding systems of the hospitals.

Services Completed:

Emmy Awards


While preference increased from 38% to 49%, VCH experienced tangible growth. Hospital revenue increased by 17% in the first year. During the course of our consultation and management services, Valley Children's became ranked among the Best Children's Hospitals by U.S. News & World Report for the first time in the history of the organization.

Other firsts include their first and second Emmy Awards for the TV commercials we produced. We helped Valley Children's become the first children's hospital with their own video game for patient therapy. In the pending “Find George” app, patients will find their way to their destination by following the footsteps of the virtual character.


Video Game Therapy

Further expanding on the animal therapy concept, we developed a video game to be used in physical therapy sessions with children. By following George’s lead, children find that exercises they dislike turn into exercises they love.

Working with the Make-A-Wish Foundation, we designed a virtual reality patient experience for a child who loved dinosaurs. By putting on virtual reality glasses, the child became a dinosaur and was able to better escape from the challenges of a terminal disease. Patient experiences like these have been studied by our team, and with significant conclusions. In a study among critically ill children, those who were granted a wish like this were twice as likely to have fewer emergency department visits and 2.5 times more likely to have fewer unplanned hospitalizations.

This breakthrough study from our team was published by Dr. Anup D. Patel, section Chief of Neurology at Nationwide Children's Hospital and an Associate Professor of Pediatrics at the Ohio State University College of Medicine in Columbus. Following the study, Dr. Patel stated, "These kids, when they come back, are more engaged with their families and medical providers, and perhaps they're more adherent to their treatment plan," concluding "What's harder to quantify, is this feeling of hope and having a break from your illness. It gives them an ability to fight harder, and that's harder to measure.”


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