Case Study

American Association for Cancer Research

The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) has worked to prevent and cure cancer through research, education, communication and collaboration since its founding in 1907. Its flagship quarterly publication, Cancer Today, serves as the authoritative resource for cancer-affected communities by offering readers guidance through every step of the cancer journey. Cancer Today touts a 180,000-print circulation with distribution spanning hospital and cancer centers, support and advocacy groups, events and conferences as well as doctors’ offices across the country.


  • Content Strategy
  • Magazine Redesign
  • Magazine Ongoing Design


  • EXCEL Awards
  • FOLIO: Eddie & Ozzie Awards
  • SPD Awards

Bates Creative started its relationship with the AACR by collaborating on a new content strategy for its classic publication, CR magazine, which included renaming the publication in 2011. The AACR re-launched its magazine as Cancer Today, amplified with a bold redesign led by Bates Creative in 2012.

Bates Creative has been an integral part of the Cancer Today team since the magazine’s inception in 2011. Not only is the Bates staff expert in what they do, but they understand and are fully committed to the mission of our magazine.

Kevin McLaughlin, Executive Editor

An Ongoing Creative Stance

The magazine redesign unveiled a more modern appeal that emotionally connects with readers, helping the AACR accomplish its goal of building a tighter bond with cancer patients, survivors and caregivers. Bates Creative has continued to design each quarterly issue, including art and photography management, since the redesign launch.

From cover to cover, the publication’s design strategy is magnified through a bright color palette, custom typography and hand-drawn illustrations. The cover strategy developed during the redesign process places an emphasis on highlighting what is important to the cancer survivor profiled on the cover. Bates Creative develops the creative brief for the contracted photographer with clear artistic direction for what is envisioned for each issue’s cover design. This photography is also carried through for the survivor profile article found in the issue.

While the magazine departments are structured with technical content and research findings, Bates Creative works to display this content through impactful design that creates an easily digestible reading experience.

Cancer Today’s feature well also includes the “Yesterday and Today” feature, which covers a celebrity figure that has passed away from cancer. Bates Creative collaborates with the editorial team to understand what aspect of the celebrity’s life should be highlighted through the article’s design for readers to recognize.

Launching a Digital Experience

In addition to the print design, Bates Creative worked with the AACR to design the magazine’s online presence, which was launched in conjunction with the print redesign. The website pulls in design elements that are suitable for the digital environment. Upon each print issue’s completion, Bates Creative supplies the AACR with the final art and content for its digital team to import into the website to bring the reading experience full circle.

Bates designers and project managers are creative, responsive and flexible—everything we would want from an in-house design team and more.

Kevin McLaughlin, Executive Editor