Most people know that Alzheimer's affects about 18 million people in the world and is the sixth-largest cause of death in United States; they understand that the disease leads to the destruction of brain cells and reduces memory and bodily functions over time. What people perhaps don’t know is the individual misery; the sense of helplessness and hopelessness experienced every day by those afflicted by this modern-day epidemic. What they perhaps don’t feel is the agony of millions of people who suffer from this disease and live in a world of confusion and disorientation.
Looks like this was exactly what was going on in the creative minds of the Israeli ad agency, ACW Grey, when they designed and enacted a breakthrough campaign, “The Wrong Movie” for a non-profit organization, EMDA (Alzheimer’s Association of Israel), during the International Alzheimer’s awareness week.
By using all the marketing techniques and tools at hand — mass media & social media, word of mouth, word of mouse — and their “moral imagination,” they weaved a powerful story that leaves a deep impression that remains lodged in the mind long after the ad leaves the screen.
The story unravels as the audience in the theater gets totally confused and bewildered when the movie they expected to see is switched with a different one. As the reason for the confusion is revealed, the audience realizes that they have unknowingly become part of an experience — the feelings of confusion and disorientation experienced by Alzheimer’s patients. The story does not stop there: it moves forward as the moviegoers share their experiences through social media and on TV and radio, making the Alzheimer’s awareness campaign a huge success.
The beauty of this powerfully moving ad lies in skillfully mapping out all the opportunities to make a complicated reality terrifically clear. It packs all the elements into a compelling, compulsively viewable narrative and the audience inadvertently becomes a part of the awareness campaign shown on the screen. You are touched and compelled to agree when audience in the ad makes comments such as, ”You put it so clearly and straight in your face,” “If this is their world, they are unfortunate,” and like the audience, you become an ambassador for the disease’s awareness and hardships.
What does this say about the “power of advertising”?
Advertising is a combination of the heart and mind, and if it's used skillfully it can not only “shout and sell” brands but also “talk and serve” social awareness and social change. The agencies at times need to bow out of their “for profit” endeavors and use their voices for more altruistic benefits: to tell stories that are compelling and urgent, build virality and connection, and light that little flame of hope and optimism.
Advertising can cause a ripple effect by using the power of visuals to spark emotions and effectively distill an important, invigorating message. It is said that when you touch the heart, you get people’s attention, which can then be steered into a more positive direction and effectively used to convert common people into agents powering a better world. It’s time agencies think beyond their “cliché roles” and use the immense possibilities of the power of advertising to build that connection with the human heart and spread a touching and insightful message like the “The Wrong Movie” campaign.
Anamika Pande Ved is a blogger, content curator, and content writer with Global Washington, a non-profit in Seattle, Washington. She is fascinated by commercials, more so if they are used for "social good." She is an avid traveler, reader, and a singer. Find her on Twitter here.