TBWA, Paul Belford & Rankin launch campaign for Ataxia UK

Photographer Rankin, art director Paul Belford and TBWA London have launched a powerful poster campaign for charity Ataxia UK that aims to raise awareness of the rare genetic disease.

Photographer Rankin, art director Paul Belford and TBWA London have launched a powerful poster campaign for charity Ataxia UK that aims to raise awareness of the rare genetic disease.

Ataxia affects around 10,000 people in the UK but according to a recent YouGov study, only nine percent of adults know what it is. There are various forms of the condition, which can affect sight, hearing, speech and co-ordination, and while the severity of symtpoms varies, most sufferers lose mobility. At present, there is no known cure or treatment.

In a series of posters designed by Belford, portraits of sufferers shot by Rankin have been distorted to represent the condition’s neurological impact. The black-and-white images are accompanied by strap lines that acknowledge the disease’s low profile, but liken its severity to well-known conditions such as Parkinson’s, Cerebral Palsy and Multiple Sclerosis.

Describing ataxia as their “just-as-deadly but lesser-known relation”, the ads warn of the condition’s wide ranging symptoms, its aggression in young sufferers and its links to heart disease and diabetes. They also invite people to donate to Ataxia UK and provide a link to the charity’s website.

To create the distorted effect, Belford placed Rankin’s images in a flatbed scanner and moved them during the scanning process. It’s an effective and attention grabbing way to demonstrate ataxia’s impact and Belford has also applied the technique to typography.

As we noted in a recent article on a campaign portraying Parkinson’s, one of the greatest challenges in charity advertising is devising something that will shock the public into taking notice without frightening or offending those affected by the issues it promotes.

In this case, Ataxia UK is candid about the condition’s severity and the fact it’s incurable but it is sensitive to sufferers and their families and ends with a positive call to action, encouraging people to “attack” the disease by donating to the charity.

Straplines such as “Ataxia. It’s like multiple sclerosis ganged up with Parkinson’s and played a dirty trick on Cerebral Palsy” aren’t intended to suggest the condition is ‘worse’ or more deserving of support than other diseases, but simply highlight the fact that while it shares many symptoms with them, ataxia is comparitively unknown. As most people will know of at least one or two of the symptoms associated with more common conditions, it also gives audiences an impression of ataxia and its effects at a glance.

Sue Millman, chief executive of Ataxia UK, says that she hopes the campaign will shed light on the disease and help raise the money needed to find a cure or possible treatments.

“While awareness of multiple sclerosis, motor neurone disease or Parkinson’s is high, degenerative conditions like ataxias, which have similar symptoms and affect people in a similar way, are not well known.  With no famous faces affected by ataxia to fight our corner, we really are invisible…We hope this campaign will really bring attention to what it’s like living with this condition,” she adds.

Chief creative officer: Peter Souter
ECD: Jeremy Carr
Copywriting: Antonia Clayton
Art direction: Pat Comer
Art direction/design/typography: Paul Belford
Photography: Rankin

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