Publicis New York Tackles the Term ‘Special Needs’ for Down Syndrome Organization CoorDown

By Erik Oster 

Publicis New York launched a campaign for CoorDown, Italy’s national organization for individuals with Down syndrome, entitled “Not Special Needs” in time for World Down Syndrome Day today.

A 60-second spot takes aim at the phrase “special needs,” which it posits is an unfair way to characterize the needs of individuals with Down syndrome, who have the same needs as everybody else, really. To do so, it takes a look at what some “special needs” would actually look like, including a dinosaur egg diet, armor-clad wardrobe and celebrity wake-up calls. There’s also a dedicated campaign landing site, where viewers can find out more information.

The atypically humorous approach for a PSA makes its case in an entertaining way, without undermining the seriousness of the cause itself. It also forces audiences to reconsider how they think and speak about those with such disabilities.

Publicis New York executive creative directors, Luca Pannese and Luca Lorenzini, who recently joined the agency from Saatchi & Saatchi New York and have worked with the client in the past, were behind the effort, along with CCO Andy Bird, copywriter David Green and art director Jen Wang.


“The term ‘special needs’ is a euphemistic way to speak about persons with disabilities and their needs,” Bird explained to Adweek. “The reality is people with Down syndrome do not have different or special needs, although they may sometimes meet those needs in different ways. They have the same needs as all of us—jobs, friends, love and simply the need to be seen and treated equally.”

Agency: Publicis New York
Chief Creative Officer: Andy Bird
Executive Creative Directors: Luca Pannese, Luca Lorenzini
Copywriter: David Green
Art Director: Jen Wang
Director of Integrated Production Operations: Tim Ayers
Senior Integrated Producer: Jakub Popadiuk
Lead AD Tech Developer: Scott Jones
Interactive Developer: Dara Mao
Art Director: Jen Wang
Group Account Director: Kathryn Harvey
Account Director: Jakub Popadiuk, Shari Letterman
Chief Production Officer: Lisa Bifulco
Agency Producer: Chris Muldoon
Agency Editor: Marc Legana
Production Company: Hungryman Productions
Director: Wayne McClammy
Executive Producer/Managing Partner: Kevin Byrne
Puppet and Puppeteering: Legacy Effects
Editorial Company: Rock Paper Scissors
EP: Rana Martin and Eve Kornblum
Editor: Christjan Jordan
AE: Pieter Viljoen
Producer: Dani DuHadway
Color: Billy Hobson
VFX: Paul O’Shea, Miles Essmiller, Phil Man
Puppet and Puppeteering: Legacy Effects
Music Producer: Rachel Rauch
Music, Mix and Sound Design by: Record & Mix: Beacon Street Studios
Composers: Andrew Feltenstein & John Nau
Executive Producer: Leslie DiLullo
Senior Producer: Kate Vadnais
Mixer/Sound Designer: Rommel Molina
Mix Assistant: Vivi Rojas