Ad of the Day: BBDO Turns to 3-D Stop-Motion Animation for These Lovely Autism PSAs

A whole imagined world

A technique that's more universally relatable than live action

BBDO New York and the Ad Council have unveiled a beautiful new campaign for Autism Speaks, the autism science and advocacy group, using lovely 3-D stop-motion animation to tell the story of Jacob, a real boy who has the developmental disorder.

Jacob didn't speak until he was 4 years old. BBDO interviewed him, and other families affected by autism, which laid the groundwork for the creative, anchored by a wonderfully imagined fantasy world in which Jacob navigates life through a series of visual metaphors—fitfully at times, but more confidently by the end.

The world was built from scratch with help from Lobo Production, and based off elements of Jacob's real life. Some of the creatures, for example, are reflections of Jacob's real toys. The scenes in the video communicate the signs of autism, such as lack of eye contact, sensitivity to light, repetitive behavior and delayed speech. Getting parents to recognize those symptoms early, and get help, is the goal of the campaign.

In its colorful, delightful depiction of an imagined life, the spot recalls Goodby Silverstein & Partners' wonderful "Emily's Oz" campaign for Comcast earlier this year—which was just as lovingly crafted and eye-catchingly cool. BBDO's fantasy world has another, more practical purpose—it's relatable in a way that a live-action story might not be.

"The saying 'If you've met one child with autism, you've met one child with autism' says it all. So, we knew we had to convey the individual signs in a way that every parent could recognize and understand," says Bianca Guimaraes, associate creative director at BBDO.

"That was one of the reasons why we decided to use animation—to create an open canvas that each parent could imagine their own child in," adds creative director Mark Anderson.

Radio, print, digital and outdoor ads will also encourage parents to learn the signs of autism early by visiting The campaign is an extension of the "Learn the Signs" campaign, created by BBDO, which has helped to significantly increase the percentage of parents who recognize the early warning signs of autism, Autism Speaks says.

Approximately 1 in 68 children is on the autism spectrum—an increase in prevalence of more than 100 percent in a single decade, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Yet research shows many parents have little knowledge about the signs of the disorder and are not seeking help early enough.

Check out the print work below. Click the ads to enlarge.

Client: Autism Speaks
Title: "Signs of Autism – Jacob's Story"

Agency: BBDO New York
Chief Creative Officer, Worldwide: David Lubars
Chief Creative Officer, New York: Greg Hahn
Executive Creative Director: Matt MacDonald
CD/Copywriter: Mark Anderson
ACD/Art Director: Bianca Guimarães

Senior Producer: Whitney Collins
Executive Music Producer: Melissa Chester
Senior Radio Producer: Chris Cassar
Account Director: Sarah Parkinson
Account Manager: Sarah Albertelli
Account Executives: Michelle Brandow; Sigourney Hudson-Clemons

Production Company: Lobo Productions
Director: Guilherme Marcondes
Creative Executive Producer: Loic François Marie Dubois
Producer: Aron Matschulat Aguiar
Director of Photography: Alexandre Elaiuy, Vince Vennitti
Associate Producer: Eliza Flores
Type Designer: Marcelo Righini
Digital Creative Director: Carolina Azevedo

Music and Sound Design: Human NY

Sound Mixer: Corey Bauman


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