This Powerful Ad Shatters the Notion That Down Syndrome Means a ‘Lifetime of Limitations’

Saatchi & Saatchi spot marks National Down Syndrome Society’s 40th year

New ad dispels myths about those living with Down syndrome. NDSS

For the past few years, the Canadian Down Syndrome Society, along with their agency FCB, has been aggressive in fostering a sense of empathy and understanding about the condition. Some of the award-winning work from Canada has opened eyes and courted some controversy yet, more importantly, dispelled the myths surrounding people with Down syndrome.

This week, here in the U.S., the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS), took a similar approach with a new ad that debunks the idea that those with Down syndrome cannot lead fulfilling lives. Created with Saatchi & Saatchi New York, the film begins with a doctor describing the limitations that parents of children with Down syndrome have likely heard.

Among the grim dialogue from the doctor are the inspirational stories of highly-accomplished and successful people who have not only lived with Down syndrome but continue to thrive. A bakery owner, college grad, lobbyist, powerlifter, Emmy-nominated actor and married couple are featured in the ad, along with 61-year-old Louis Dilauri who has outlived the average life expectancy of someone with Down syndrome by a large margin.

“Our desire is for this 40th Anniversary video to show society that individuals with Down syndrome want the American dream and that their determination will surpass any limitation put in their path,” said Kandi Pickard, SVP of philanthropy, outreach and events at The National Down Syndrome Society.

Aside from the hopeful message, the goal of the ad is to advocate for changes in federal law for those with Down syndrome. “Law Syndrome” launched last year to support a bill that would reform complex and outdated regulations that prevent the Down syndrome community from more competitive employment and Medicaid flexibility. People with the condition rely on Medicaid but must have very low income meaning that people with full-time jobs would not qualify for the benefit.

“Day in and day out, individuals with Down syndrome disprove any negative, preconceived notions of their diagnosis and demonstrate why the laws stacked against them are so wholly unfair,” said Andrea Diquez, CEO at Saatchi & Saatchi NY. “We hope that this video sends an empowering message to our society and furthers the conversation around Law Syndrome.”

The new ad is a follow up to a clever, Cannes Lions-winning experiential activation where prominent Washington D.C. figures were invited to an exclusive restaurant opening in the city that was run by people with Down syndrome. The goal was to draw attention to the issue and, after the evening, prompted lawmakers to meet and discuss the issue.


Agency: Saatchi & Saatchi New York
Client: NDSS
CEO: Andrea Diquez
CCO: Taras Wayner
Creative Director: Daniel Lobatón
Associate Creative Director / Art Director: Rafael Segri
Associate Creative Director / Copywriter: Kiko Mattoso
Producer: Danielle Hallack
Account Director: Ciara Siegel
Account Manager: Danielle Weiner
Account Executive: Micah Sharfstein
Digital Director: Melissa Hochman
Production: Curfew
Director: Anthony Pellino
Producer: Chris Dodds
Partner: Mark Smith
Partner: Spencer Dennis
Executive Producer: Kathryn Berk
Edit: Whitehouse Post
Editor: David Cea
Assistant Editor: Alejandro Villagran
Executive Producer: Caitlin Grady
Producer: Ryan Smith


CEO / President: Sara Weir
Senior VP: Kandi Pickard
Manager of Inclusive Education Programming: Sara Jo Soldovieri
Manager of Grassroots Advocacy: Nicole Patton
Director of Government Relations: Ashley Helsing


Adrian Forsythe – Lobbyist
Collette Divitto – Baker
AnnaRose Rubright – College Graduate
Jon Stoklosa – Powerlifter
John Tucker – Actor
Jeffrey Resnick & Nicole Figueroa – Couple
Louis Dilauri – Survivor

@zanger Doug Zanger is a senior editor, agencies at Adweek, focusing on creativity and agencies.