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The Drum Awards Brand Strategy The Drum Awards For Social Purpose

How the Alzheimer’s Society helped to reframe diagnosis to shift public attitudes


By Awards Analyst, writer

December 8, 2022 | 6 min read

Alzheimer’s Society won at The Drum Awards for Social Purpose 2022 in the Best Integrated Campaign category for its ‘It’s Not Called Getting Old, It’s Called Getting Ill,” campaign. Here, we find out more about what went into this successful work.

Alzheimer's Society

There has been a sustained drop in dementia diagnosis rates, exacerbated by the pandemic.

Dementia Action Week (DAW) is Alzheimer's Society's annual campaign, encouraging people to ‘act on dementia’. DAW 2022 took place 16-22 May.

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There has been a sustained drop in dementia diagnosis rates, exacerbated by the pandemic. Yet primary research of over 1,000 people affected by dementia showed that 91% felt getting a diagnosis offered multiple benefits.

The brief

This integrated campaign encouraged people who might be living with undiagnosed dementia to come to the society for guidance, empowering them to make the right next step and improving the diagnosis experience.

The campaign centered around an emotive TV advert spotlighting the biggest barrier to seeking a diagnosis - dismissing common symptoms of dementia as a part of normal aging. The advert’s tagline – ‘It’s not called getting old. It’s called getting ill.’ - and the CTA of coming to the Society for guidance aimed to shift public attitudes towards these symptoms and position the society as a charity for information and support.

The idea

Alzheimer’s Society worked with leading clinicians to develop campaign messaging, secure buy-in and co-create a symptom checklist that improves diagnosis conversations for patients and GPs.

Leveraging a solus deal with ITV, the society premiered a full 90-second ad across an entire ad break. It then cut down to a 60-second, 40-second and 30-second across a two-week period.

Knowing that it can often take the help of many family members to encourage the first step towards diagnosis, we secured key family viewing moments including during Coronation Street and Britain's Got Talent.

The ad was not only shown on TV but via social channels – amplified by the society’s Ambassadors - and also directly to key decision makers such as Health & Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid and attendees to the Society’s annual conference.

The results

Reach was extended by impactful OOH and blanket editorial coverage with 200 pieces of national coverage and more than 800 pieces of regional coverage in media outlets such as BBC Breakfast, ITV News, LBC, The Times and BBC Radio 2.

A wealth of new content was launched in an online 'Memory Hub' including a symptoms checklist, endorsed by the Royal College of GPs that helps people to document possible signs of dementia that can then be discussed with their healthcare professional. New accessible material to provide improved information to Punjabi communities was also produced.

Research suggests people from South Asian communities are more likely to develop dementia than the general UK population and Punjabi is the third most spoken language in the UK.

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As reflected in the outpouring of messages online and in conversations between our dementia advisors and those who had called our support line, this was a powerful and impactful campaign that challenged people’s misconceptions about what dementia is. It also put Alzheimer’s Society at the front and center of people’s minds, as the go-to place for information and support on getting a dementia diagnosis.

This campaign was a winner at The Drum Awards for Social Purpose 2022. You can see all the winners here. The Drum Awards for Marketing are currently open for entry. Find out how you can enter now.

The Drum Awards Brand Strategy The Drum Awards For Social Purpose

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