March of Dimes tries to conquer the curve for those with physical disabilities

Who: March of Dimes Canada with DDB Canada Vancouver and OMD for media (plus a number of media provider partners, see below.)

What: “Conquer the Curve,” an emergency advertising campaign that repurposes the now famous COVID “curve” to illustrate the challenges faced by the more than 6.2 million Canadians living with physical disabilities during the pandemic.

When & Where: The campaign broke earlier this month and will run through early August across out-of-home, broadcast, print, digital and social.

Why: The COVID crisis produces unique challenges for people living with physical disabilities, because they have less access to support programs and services due to social distancing while also often being at increased health risk because of their disability.

“This pandemic does not impact all Canadians equally, and people with disabilities are among the most vulnerable,” said Victoria Pearson, director, communications and public affairs for March of Dimes. “They’re really isolated at the best of times; there are barriers that already exist in their lives when it comes to being included in society and in the services and support they need to live healthy lives. Layer a pandemic on top of this, and it really becomes a crisis of isolation.”

The campaign has two goals: raise awareness of the problem, and generate new donations from the public. Aside from the challenges for those living with disabilities, COVID forced March of Dimes to cancel all of its fundraising events for the foreseeable future.

How: The core idea behind the campaign is to show people with disabilities undertaking everyday tasks, only to literally encounter an insurmountable obstacle in the form of the COVID-curve.

“That visual of the curve rising up and actually physically and tangibly separating a person with disability from a support that they really require to be physically and mentally well, and to get through this pandemic, that really speaks to the experience that we want people to understand,” said Pearson.

Media: “We’ve done a limited social media spend, but we’re incredibly fortunate to have had PSA and donated media from a range of different partners, a huge array of broadcast partners,” said Pearson. Among the companies donating time and space are Corus, Bell, Rogers, CBC, Western Media Group. Pattison Outdoor, Eyeshot Media, and Postmedia.

And we quote: “People with disabilities may experience additional health vulnerabilities that make them more susceptible to infection and illness through COVID,” said Pearson. “It’s really important for people to understand that even as we see the curve flattening for all of society, this barrier remains for people with disabilities.”

David Brown