Donna Lowich, a grandmother of three young girls, sustained a spinal cord injury over 30 years ago when her son Jeffrey was four years old. She was paralyzed from the neck down. As her son grew up, Donna was unable to actively play with him. Her son eventually had three daughters of his own, but for most of her oldest granddaughter's life, Lowich said she could only do non-active things such as going to a movie, drawing or reading to each other.
Lowich never dreamed that there would be a way for her to pitch balls to her granddaughter, but a new line of toys is making that possible. 360i, in partnership with the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation and AXIOS, came up with the idea to modify everyday toys, like race cars, with a bit of technology so that people living with paralysis could actively play with children.
"Right now there is nothing that allows a person with disabilities to actively participate in a family fun day like this," Lowich said. "This is opening up a whole new door for people to build relationships with their children, grandchildren, other family members."
The agency approached the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation with its idea, which it had been toying with for a few years. Pierre Lipton, chief creative officer at 360i, said the cause is close to his heart as his father grew up with a disability. "I think what the work brings forward is that the physical limitations sometimes become the emotional limitations in making this connection between the family member and the child, and that's what we're trying to overcome here," Lipton told Adweek.
After 360i group creative director Fabio Seidl secured a meeting with the foundation, the agency immediately got to work coming up with the product and creating a campaign to launch it. Alongside the actual toys, which you can take a look at online, the team worked with the foundation to find two families to test the toys and captured those moments in a video.
"When we went outside I could just watch Jeffrey pitch the balls, but now I can do it. It's a whole different ball game. Now I can pitch, I can do pop ups and all kinds of things with the voice activated pitching machine and she loves that," Lowich told Adweek.
So far 360i and technology partner AXIOS have developed race cars, shown in the video by former Rutgers football player Eric LeGrand, which comes with a headset equipped with a straw. The user exhales into the straw to get the car to accelerate and inhales to reverse the toy.
With the launch of the campaign, the foundation hopes to raise $155,000 to build 100 race cars and eventually make the toys accessible for all families living with paralysis. The voice activated pitching device, which can throw pop-ups, groundballs and strikes, is another product that the team hopes to mass market in the near future.
Rebecca Laming, vp, marketing and communications for the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, said she also hopes the work will catch the eye of big toy manufacturers, because they do not seem to have toys for people with disabilities on their radar. "Over 56 million Americans living with disabilities and yet we are usually overlooked when it comes to areas like this," Laming said.
Client: Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation
Technology Company: AXIOS NYC
Production Company: tinygiant
Chief Creative Officer: Pierre Lipton
Group Creative Director: Fabio Seidl
Creative Director: Corel Theuma
Creative Director: James Rogala
VP, Group Account Director: Deborah Korono
Account Supervisor: Maiko Kitagawa
VP, Innovation Technology: Layne Harris
Associate Creative Technologist: Alexis Moses
Senior Innovation Strategist: Fitz Maro
VP, Head of Production: Lucia Grillo
Head of Content Production: Sharon Harte
Senior Content Producer: Lorraine Schaffer
Senior Integrated Producer: Jamie- Leigh Florence
Associate Director of Influencer Marketing: Justin Riviera
Senior Social Publicist: Lauren Minella
Technical Director: Jameson Edwards
Front End Development: James Daly
Quality Assurance Testing: Paulie Srinuan
Axios NYC Credits:
Technical Director: David Yepez
Technical Director: Courtland Premo
Executive Producer: Veronica Diaferia
Director: Charlie Mysak
Director of Photography: David Vollrath
Producer: Ella Nuortila
Editor: Jim Rubino
Assistant Editor: Dan Nassar
Producer: Meg Hall
Colorist: Shawn King
Audio: David Wolfe