Today, the Epilepsy Foundation introduces its first ad campaign ever, challenging the United States to recognize the brain not only as the source of seizures but also as a source of the solution to the disease.
The campaign, using “Let’s use our brains to end epilepsy” as the tagline, will feature out-of-home and digital ads, public service spots, social media and influencer initiatives, and a new campaign-centric website, endepilepsy.org. The creative is by New York marketing agency CSM Lead Dog.
To help the new campaign counter such misconceptions, heighten public awareness about epilepsy and offer seizure first-aid tips, the foundation identified 14 people—including individuals with epilepsy, caregivers and advocates—to act as campaign ambassadors. They are shown in 15, 30 and 60-second PSA spots, as well as other creative.
According to Philip Gattone, president and CEO of the Epilepsy Foundation, 3.4 million Americans live with epilepsy, more than people living with autism spectrum disorders, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis and cerebral palsy combined. Additionally, over a lifetime, one in ten people will have a seizure, and one in 26 will be diagnosed with epilepsy.
Despite these statistics, epilepsy—which is defined as the underlying tendency of the brain to produce seizures, sudden abnormal bursts of electrical energy that disrupt brain functions—receives one-tenth the research funding of any one of these other neurological disorders.
Gattone added that popular media have misrepresented epilepsy, most recently in a Netflix film, “The After Party,” where one of the characters has a seizure, is subsequently nicknamed “Seizure Boy” and ridiculed by other characters.
People with epilepsy “get bullied (and) discriminated against. They don’t want to talk about it because they don’t want to endure misunderstanding and bullying,” Gattone explained.
The foundation also enlisted celebrities to participate in the campaign, including actor John O’Hurley, whose sister died from an epileptic seizure in her sleep when she was 17, and Los Angeles-based graffiti artist Saber, who has epilepsy.
O’Hurley will do a satellite media tour October 1 and is scheduled to appear on “The Today Show” October 5. On the night of October 11, in a live performance in Pershing Square in Los Angeles, Saber will paint a brain on a large canvas, which will then be cut into pieces and auctioned off as a fundraiser for the foundation.
CSM Lead Dog is also enlisting tween and older social influencers—including Rick Harrison of “Pawn Stars,” who has epilepsy, and actor Greg Grunberg, whose son has epilepsy—to fill in the blank on the campaign’s social media sign, which says, “I’m using my brain to #ENDEPILEPSY by (blank).”
An ad featuring an ambassador will run on billboards in Times Square in New York for seven days in November, while a full-page ad with an ambassador will run pro bono in Newsweek on November 23. Later this month paid ads featuring ambassadors will also begin to run on Facebook in ten markets across the U.S.
Gattone, whose son has epilepsy, said the foundation, which turns 50 this year, had not previously advertised because it was “not healthy enough financially to invest in this way. With the foundation’s network of 50 offices across the United States, we’re poised to move forward in a new way. And technology offers solutions.”
Executive Creative Directors: Chris Dealy and Carter Schwerberg
Art Director: Christine Bilms
Brand Strategy: Phyllis Dealy
Marketing Strategy: Julie DeLoca and Ken Blake
PR and Social Media Strategy: Alison Hendrie and Gina Salese
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