CCFA’s New Ad Campaign: A bold, honest approach to raising awareness

January 11, 2013 at 2:30 pm 4 comments

I think I might be in the minority when I say that I think CCFA’s new ad campaign is brilliant.

I understand why some folks aren’t fans of it- it makes it look like IBD patients spend a lot of time in the bathroom. But the reality is that they do. That’s a fundamental thing that people don’t understand about the disease.

One thing that the vast majority of IBD patient has in common is that they spend a significant amount of time in the bathroom because of the disease. That’s why I think CCFA went this route with their new ad campaign.

After the urgency and frequent trips to the bathroom, each case of IBD is different. Some have surgery, some don’t. Some people end up hospitalized, others don’t. But an effective ad needs to show the parts of the disease that are applicable to the vast majority of patients. So it makes sense that CCFA opted to go this way instead of showing someone in the hospital, someone getting an IV of Remicade, or a patient with an NG tube.

One of my friend’s, who is also an IBD caregiver, had some great insight about the new campaign:

“The bathrooms is like showing a bald cancer patient in an ad for the American Cancer Society. You don’t show them throwing up in a toilet. You show a byproduct that people are comfortable with but which relays a central element of the disease.”

I honestly couldn’t have said it better. I’ve seen folks who say the ad campaign would be more effective to show a patient with an NG tube or scars. While it definitely would be powerful, there are problems with going that route as well:

  1. You are going to make people extremely uncomfortable and subsequently they will neither look at the ads nor want to learn more.
  2. Showing someone with an NG tube or surgical scars might be something that some IBD patients have but it isn’t unique to IBD patients alone. However, frequent bathroom trips and urgency is pretty indicative of IBD.

I understand why people are upset about the ads: to those who don’t know what the disease is assumes that it causes people to go to the bathroom a lot and that’s it. But I think the text on the ads is what makes it an effective ad that goes beyond the image.

Seeing this, my immediate though isn’t that she’s just in the bathroom and that sucks. My reaction, as someone without IBD, is “why is she too sick to go?” If I were someone without IBD seeing this ad, I’d immediately want to learn more about why.

The other important thing these ads show is that the disease impacts everyday life. It doesn’t care where you are or what you are doing. It will just flare up whenever it wants with no exceptions. That is why I think this is so effective.

Each ad also goes beyond the mildly humorous and whimsy headline to say, “The physical and emotional toll can be devastating” to give it a more serious feeling.

According to an article in the NY Times,

“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.”

Yet again, I couldn’t have said it better.

Honestly, no matter the campaign, not everyone is going to be happy. However, I think this is a great first big advertising campaign and I applaud CCFA for the route they chose. I hope it helps to raise awareness of IBD significantly.


Entry filed under: Advocates, Uncategorized.

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4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Levi  |  January 11, 2013 at 2:44 pm

    Well as you stated earlier their are some people that aren’t so happy about this ad. I don’t really see the problem with it but I can understand both sides of the argument.

  • 2. speakforyourself  |  January 11, 2013 at 3:55 pm

    I don’t spend a significant amount of time in my bathroom because of my IBD. I have no urgency or frequent trips to the bathroom. My symptoms consist of pain, fatigue, and occasional constipation, and my lack of stereotypical symptoms lead to me being misdiagnosed for years. I have never had an awkward public restroom moment, which I am very thankful for, but my illness is still debilitating and I’m getting a Remicade infusion as I type this. I know I am not the only patient with this manifestation of IBD.

    You need to educate yourself before you make sweeping statements about your fellow patients.

  • 3. CCFA: Escape The Stall | youngcrohns  |  January 12, 2013 at 4:38 pm

    […] Rebecca from Caring For Crohn’s: CCFAs New Ad Campaign: A bold, honest approach to raising awareness […]

  • […] have responded to a certain article, their use of levity about a serious topic (clown shoes in the Escape the Stall campaign), and how slow they are, at times, to jump on the bandwagon with social media campaigns. […]


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