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My Thoughts on CCFA’s New Campaign: #EscapeTheStall

Posted Jan 12 2013 8:52pm

When CCFA first released the Escape the Stall campaign, I didn’t plan to write about it. While this blog is always an honest portrayal of my own thoughts, feelings, and opinions, I do work for the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America, and I’m aware of the bias that it gives me. (Although I didn’t work on this campaign at all.) Still, as I read some of the reactions to the campaign from the very people we aim to help, I can’t but share mine as well. My friends at The Great Bowel Movement captured much of my feelings in their recent blog post about the topic, too.

If you haven’t seen the campaign yet, here’s one of the video PSAs that CCFA hopes to have aired on television soon.

I can’t lie, when I first saw some of the print ads that were to be released, I wasn’t thrilled. There it was, the focus on the bathroom.

As a patient who has had Crohn’s disease for nearly eight years, I have spent a lot of time in the bathroom due to my disease. I’ve also dealt with joint pain, chronic fatigue, and the inability to absorb many important nutrients my body needs. At first glance, I was surprised that the focus appeared to be on the bathroom, and I was hoping someone had a really good explanation for that decision.

As it turns out, they did. A recent New York Times article explains how my colleagues, and the company we worked with, eventually won me over. Here are some key points:

“We really started this campaign by saying we wanted to stay away from the bathroom, because we thought the bathroom would underrepresent our disease,” said Richard Geswell, the president of the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation. “I was worried that our patients might think it was too lighthearted, and some aren’t in public restrooms because they can’t even leave the house,” said Mr. Geswell, who added he was won over by the new campaign, which he said struck the right tone and would spur awareness.

Rich Levy, chief creative officer of DraftFCB Healthcare, said, “When we first started this project, the last thing we wanted to do is what I’d call bathroom humor.” But he said that although the campaign was set in restrooms and had whimsical notes, its impact aimed to be more profound.

“What was the universal truth was that behind those doors are thousands and thousands of people who are suffering, and you don’t know who they are, but they know who they are,” said Mr. Levy.

Another point that one me over? If Public Service Announcements are too scary, it is much more difficult to find networks that will air them. Many won’t air them at all. What good is a PSA if nobody sees it?

The intricacies of IBD are many. How Crohn’s impacts my life is different than each of my friends who have the disease. Some have had surgeries, long hospital stays, and have lived with ostomies. Some have arthritis. Some take medications that weaken their immune systems. While our journeys have similarities, they are all very different, and the complex ways in which IBD impacts us couldn’t be explained in just thirty seconds. The ads capture something important: IBD effects the lives of people of all ages and all walks of life.

Finally, I think it makes far more sense to draw people in with something eye-catching and funny and help them learn more. As The Great Bowel Movement so eloquently put it, “If you’re talking to someone who may not be familiar with IBD, it can be more effective to find that common ground.  Something like ‘Remember when I was in the hospital and I had to get both a Remicade infusion and an iron infusion in the same day?’ will likely be met with responses of generic sympathy, and a change of subject.”

I want to talk about my disease. I want people to hear the words Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis often enough that they become familiar. And I think this is a great start.

Whether you have IBD or not, what do you think of the new campaign?


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