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New charity Versus Arthritis launches campaign to challenge UK’s dismissal of condition
Today sees the launch of a nationwide multi-channel campaign from new charity, Versus Arthritis, to get the country to take arthritis seriously.
Arthritis affects over ten million people in the UK and can make simple movements painful and burdened. The impact on individuals is huge, yet the pain and fatigue caused is invisible and can fluctuate day to day. Despite this and the significant social and economic impact, there is a severe lack of understanding and trivialisation of arthritis among the public.
The campaign positions arthritis as a thief that is, silently and invisibly, stealing from those we know or love. It’s taking away the most important things from our lives – the ability to work, spend time with loved ones and do the simplest of movements without pain.
The strategy encourages the UK public to challenge our collective acceptance and dismissal of the condition as ‘just a bit of arthritis’ and speak out against it by declaring themselves Versus Arthritis. The long-term strategy of the new organisation hopes to turn current perceptions of arthritis on their head – from passively accepting its impact, to a society where ignoring and dismissing the condition is seen as unacceptable. By encouraging multiple and visible acts of defiance against arthritis and mounting a loud and visible opposite against the condition, people with arthritis will feel empowered to demand more o help them live better.
There are three 30s films for TV and VOD which depict three different people living with arthritis – a teacher in her thirties, a grandmother of a 6-year-old boy, and a boyfriend in his mid-40’s.Having multiple depictions of the reality of living with arthritis was integral to the strategy – to reflect the breadth of impact of the condition, and relatable stories for different audiences. The storylines were developed using insight from people living with the condition, who were also on set to direct and guide the actors to accurately depict the reality they face everyday.
The advertisements, directed by Tom Tagholm, depict each person with arthritis struggling with their pain whilst reflecting on a good day when they are not in pain from their arthritis – from the contrasting viewpoint of a bad day when they are struggling with the condition. The focus is on the loss of these important moments and movements in our lives, that arthritis has stolen – from our ability to work, to live independently or to be intimate. This filmic technique blurs the two worlds in the ad, with every film ending on a positive call to arms, rallying the audience to take action.
National OOH and digital media further communicate the need for action by casting the characters from the TV ads alongside the interruptive headline “Stop Thief” and again asking the viewer to join the charity in defying arthritis.
A series of films on social media include people with arthritis and their family sharing their realities, to encourage others to do the same through social sharing with the hashtag #VersusArthritis.
Given that raising the profile of arthritis up the public agenda and encouraging our audiences to talk about the condition is a vital part of this campaign, the charity is partnering with Gogglebox, Studio Lambert and Channel 4, to get the nation talking.
LIDA, part of the M&C Saatchi group, has delivered the customer experience piece, leveraging the existing arthritis community, and Great State have developed the website.
This is the first campaign that the charity has run since it launched in September this year, following a merger between Arthritis Research UK and Arthritis Care. M&C Saatchi also worked on the renaming and rebranding of the charity. This four-month campaign is the first moment of sustained, long-term activity by the charity to achieve the changes urgently needed across all areas of society.
Phillipa Williams, Director of Communications & Marketing, Versus Arthritis says, “Arthritis is one of the biggest health issues facing people in the UK today. Yet, it’s continually dismissed as inevitable, trivialised and ignored. Through powerful storytelling, a strong integrated channel mix and, most importantly amplifying the voices of people with arthritis, we will mount a visible and real opposition against the acceptance of arthritis.”
Justin Tindall, Chief Creative Officer, M&C Saatchi says, “This work aims to shine a light on the insidious and indiscriminate nature of arthritis by simultaneously contrasting a good day with a bad day. Each execution is a visceral reflection of the impact of living with arthritis both for those with the condition and those close to them.”
Anthony Swede, Chief Strategy Officer, Blue449 says, “This campaign matters to us enormously and represents a huge step forward in how the public will view the insidiousness of arthritis. We have developed a media approach aimed not only at adjusting perceptions, but kick starting a conversation and acting as a rallying cry. Together we can deft it.”
Dan Smith, Partner, Headland Consultancy says, “Arthritis is one of the biggest health challenges facing the UK, yet it goes unnoticed and isn’t talked about. That’s why we’ve focused on using earned, shared and owned media to create a national conversation about the condition.”