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10+ adverts for Alzheimer’s awareness that will make you cry

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Alzheimer's UK

When my team and I began working on a dementia-related marketing campaign, we collectively knew very little about the nature of the condition.

Now, having worked on the project for several weeks, we have all been somewhat taken aback by what we’ve learned.

In fact, all you need to do is look at other great campaigns down the years to realise the impact of the condition on people’s lives. I for one, have been particularly moved by some of these ads, and since it’s World Alzheimer’s Day I thought today would be the perfect day to share some of them with you.

Santa forgets Christmas – by Alzheimer’s Research UK

This TV advertisement is both powerful and poignant. Stephen Fry narrates the story of Freya, a little girl who has grown up in an alternative world where Santa has forgotten Christmas.

When her Father tells her this story, Freya makes her way to the North Pole in a demonstration of support for her forgotten idol. Her hope and belief in finding a cure for the condition inspires Santa’s elves to remobilise in a new role – as researchers. In fact, the whole story acts as a metaphorical message directly from Alzheimer’s Research UK – that only with world-class research and innovations can dementia be defeated.

The corresponding themes of isolation and hope make this message more meaningful, and an inspiring call to action for people to make contributions to the charity during the festive season.

Happy Valentine’s Day – by Tim Sutcliffe and Kim Martin

We came across this ad when we attended The Drum Chip Shop Awards, which celebrates spoof ads conjured up by agencies simply for a bit of light relief. This particuar ad is all about “fostering and recognising creativity without limits. This concept, created on behalf of the Alzheimer’s Society by Tim Sutcliffe and Kim Martin of Flourish, won in the ‘Best Charity Ad’ category. It’s the combination of simplicity and heart-breaking honesty that make it a worthy winner.

The concept ad consists of a picture of an elderly gentlemen reading a Valentine’s card, which is, according to the ad text: “from a complete stranger. His wife of 40 years. It then includes a message asking people to help the Alzheimer’s Society be there for people suffering from dementia by placing their own donations through their website.

Illustrated Dementia house – by AllClear Travel Insurance

This visually interactive campaign from AllClear Travel Insurance is a great place to start if you want to learn more about the various nuances and stigmas related to dementia.

Essentially, it’s an animated webpage showcasing a house living with the condition. Each room contains a different household analogy designed to get each message across in a way that hits home – literally. For example, arguably the most notable animated analogy on the page is the bookshelf.

Imagine the bookshelf is the brain, with short-term memories at the top and long-term memories at the bottom. It’s the more recent memories at the top of the shelf that are less stable when the bookshelf begins to wobble – i.e. when the brain is affected by the dementia.

Brain scan – by Rethink Canada

This TV spot, written by Bob Simpson and directed by Steve Gordon, pushes one powerful theme: memories.

The campaign was created on behalf of the Alzheimer Society of British Columbia, and its message is conveyed through an animated brain scan showing the key events of life, from marriage to the birth of your children and then into old age.

The ad encourages people to protect their memories. This highlights the importance of preparing for the condition, and much like the Valentine’s Day ad, the strength is in the simplicity. It doesn’t strive to over-complicate when a short yet strong message suffices.

Take a look at the full Rethink ad here.

World Cup Heroes United Against Dementia – by Alzheimer’s Society

You can’t help but feel a sense of pride and inspiration when you watch this ad. There’s something extremely uplifting about two World Cup winners pacing around the famous Wembley pitch, regardless of the context. Sir Geoff Hurst and Gordon Banks both refer to the damaging effects of dementia whilst encouraging people to unite and support the great work of the Alzheimer’s Society.

The tragic nature of the condition is emphasised by the pair reminiscing about that great side in 1966, before revealing how three members of that famous team have been diagnosed with dementia since.

Money brain – by Alzheimer’s Association

The angle of this campaign is different to most of the others. This is because the focus of this particular TV spot is more geared towards the financial implications of dementia – or, in this case, the specific detrimental cost that the condition is having on the US economy.

In fact, Alzheimer’s alone costs the United States $259bn a year, which raises awareness about how much of a problem it has become.

The brain made from bank notes is significant for this reason – and generates a sense of urgency regarding the need for American congress to increase Alzheimer’s research funding to help find a cure.

Time to forget – by Alzheimer’s Society

This four-week TV campaign is especially moving given that it only aired this year. The premise of the ad is unity in the face of dementia, which, according to the narrator, is set to be the UK’s biggest killer.

The message is to forget everything that keeps us apart – whether that be age, social standing, race, allegiance, or even whether you voted for or against Brexit. Because dementia doesn’t care.

The visual image of people facing off against each other in the street is especially powerful – tapping into the multicultural nature of the UK, which at times, has felt like a divided country this year.

#sharetheorange – by Alzheimer’s Research UK

This is not the first campaign to include a familiar voice, or in this case face, as actor Christopher Eccleston fronts this short film about an orange.

The purpose of this ad is to inform and educate people by highlighting the fact that dementia is caused by conditions – which can be defeated through research. The stop motion video of the peeling orange is symbolic of how these conditions affect the brain – destroying it bit-by-bit. The brain of a person with Alzheimer’s generally weighs 140 grams less than that of a heathy person – about the weight of an orange.

Eccleston also makes reference to the fact that research has beaten conditions in the past, which creates that sense of mission and purpose for people to join in the fight against dementia by supporting Alzheimer’s Research UK.

I especially love the social sharing encouragement that this campaign pushes, with over 500,000 shares since it began.

A little help from my friends – by Dementia Friends

Sense of unity is a strong theme running through all of these campaigns and this fun-loving ad from Dementia Friends is the epitome of this.

The video begins with the term ‘Dementia Friends’ being entered into an image search which results in several pictures of Gina – a lady who has been diagnosed with early stage dementia.

The pictures then come to life, as Gina breaks into the song made famous by the Beatles – With a Little Help from My Friends. Gina is joined by many more moving images of both famous and non-famous people. The likes of Chris Martin, Lily Allen, Simon Pegg and many more also break into song adding to the collective chorus of people.

Erased sentence billboard – by Alzheimer’s Society

Back to a more simple campaign, this billboard ad is just as effective as all the other Alzheimer’s Society campaigns.

This ad again taps into the brutally honest and harsh nature of dementia. It’s effective enough to not warrant any direct call to action – the message itself is shocking enough for people to sit up and take notice of organisations like the Alzheimer’s Society and the work they do to improve the lives of people living with the condition.

We admire the succinct and creative way the words have been placed in order to capture that element of sadness - potent enough to stop you in your tracks if you were to come across this billboard in the street, for example.

Daniel Wright is a creative executive at Latitude Group.

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