Parkinson’s UK Opens Campaign to Heighten Awareness, Empathy

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by Mary Chapman |

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Building upon previous efforts, Parkinson’s UK has opened a monthlong marketing campaign aiming for a better understanding of Parkinson’s disease — particularly among young adults — and of the daily challenges facing patients, caregivers, and family members.

Specifically, the group wants to help people more deeply understand and care about this disease, realize the organization’s role in advancing research, and support the Parkinson’s community as well as Parkinson’s U.K. — a disease research and support organization in the United Kingdom. An additional advertisement push is planned for later this year.

“People with Parkinson’s have told us that a lack of public understanding affects their everyday lives,” Parkinson’s UK states in its campaign announcement. “It makes living with the condition harder, whether it’s being mistaken for being drunk or having to fight for fair benefits.

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“People affected can feel like the system is against them, or fear being judged when they go out in public,” it continues. “Together, we can change that.

To enhance understanding of both Parkinson’s and Parkinson’s UK, advertisements will run on social media channels and web search engines across the United Kingdom. Posters, digital billboards, and the like will also target young adults in train stations, shopping centers, and gas stations across England and Scotland. Future campaigns could encompass more of the U.K., the organization said.

“We’ve chosen this group [young adults] as our research shows they are ready to deepen their understanding and are great potential supporters of our movement to transform life with Parkinson’s and find a cure — if we can make them care,” the organization said of its targeted demographic. “We also know they talk to and share messages with their friends, family, and colleagues about causes they care about, which helps us spread understanding of Parkinson’s.”

The effort uses themes from Parkinson’s UK’s 2020 “Time for Can” television ad campaign, which described the neurodegenerative disease and how supporters could help. That effort brought a better understanding of the disease to about 210,000 more people, and nearly 2,000 new members and donors to the organization.

The current campaign, which offers new opportunities to tell Parkinson’s stories, draws on insights from patients and caregivers, including results from the what symptoms matter most Parkinson’s UK survey, and a recent survey about what people wish the public knew about Parkinson’s. Two in-depth focus groups involving patients will help to shape future efforts.

“I’ve been stuck on the tube while commuting in London, because I knew I’d fall if I let go of the handrail,” said David, a patient who worked on the previous campaign. “I’ve been helped by kind strangers. But I’ve also been ignored, given a wide berth. People are more aware of disability now. But I believe we’re just scratching the surface.

“We’ve got so much further to go to get Parkinson’s not just seen, or heard, but understood. Parkinson’s isn’t ‘just’ the shakes. There are over 40 symptoms to deal with,” David added. “That’s why I’m so proud to be working on the Time for Can campaign. By sharing real stories by real people, some of the things we have to deal with everyday, in our homes, no gimmicks or filters — just people like me telling it like it is — we can all learn something about Parkinson’s, whether we have the condition or not.”

This year’s use of various marketing mediums will allow the organization’s campaign to tell more stories in different ways.

“Limited understanding among the public also limits our potential to grow support and ensure we’re there for people with Parkinson’s and their carers and loved ones,” Parkinson’s UK stated. “We know that Parkinson’s is complex and it’s hard to know the reality if you don’t know someone with the condition.

“That’s why we’re committed to getting Parkinson’s better understood amongst the wider population.”

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