PS DDB creates ‘Don’t Change’ campaign for Alzheimer Society of B.C.

Who: The Alzheimer Society of B.C., with Palmer Stamnes DDB (aka PS DDB) for creative, Boldly for production, and donated media from Pattison Outdoor.

What: “Don’t Change,” a new pro bono ad campaign reminding British Columbians of the importance of supporting and staying in touch with those living with Alzheimers or other forms of dementia.

When & Where: The campaign is running now through the fall on PSA TV inventory, out-of-home and social channels. There is also a new microsite with information about how to support people living with dementia.

Why: More than 500,000 Canadians are living with dementia, and 60% of them are living within their community. According to the Alzheimer Society of B.C., many people are unsure what they can do when someone close to them is diagnosed with dementia.

The non-profit wants those people to know that they should not change what they are doing when someone they care about starts to demonstrate the effects of the disease. “We have all experienced a sense of isolation during this pandemic; however, people living with dementia may feel this every day,” said Barbara Lindsay, interim CEO, Alzheimer Society of B.C. “Many people may not know how to react when someone in their life receives a dementia diagnosis. We want people to resist pulling away or changing normal behaviours—to keep ‘showing up’ for the person —because this consistency greatly reduces feelings of social isolation.”

Preventing that sense of isolation was the specific challenge ASBC took to the agency.

How: The broadcast ads show individuals living at home, but with sticky notes scattered around to remind them of the simple things they may forget: A reminder to “Turn off the tap” placed over a sink, for example, or “Feed me” on a fish bowl. The true magnitude of the disease comes from notes placed on photos of loved ones: “This is your son Jason” and “This is your friend Lisa.” Both ads conclude with the loved one knocking at the door for a visit, with the tagline: “Don’t change even if they do.”

The COVID complication: The creative concept was ready to go when COVID hit, meaning that a message about visiting people suddenly became very fraught. “We waited about five months, and then we went and did some evolution [of the creative],” said PS DDB president Patty Jones. “We had to take the concepts we had and then rejig them to feel like they fit better in COVID.”

The challenge was to be COVID-appropriate, but also not so “COVID-y” that the creative couldn’t be used post-pandemic (so no masks, for example). “We considered the mask thing but that was going to hurt us from a longevity point of view,” said Jones.

The original concept was to feature groups of people getting together. Instead, the reworked, scaled-down final versions depict people who could reasonably be part of their bubble, such as family and friends. “The higher-level message to people is ‘Look, Alzheimer’s in general is not something that ends a relationship. It has to be something you consider. And if you now have to consider that relationship and connection under COVID precautions then do it,” said Jones.

And we quote: “This is a disease that affects too many, and there are simple ways to help make the situation better, to offer compassion and patience. It’s not hard to do. Just a simple visit or phone call can make a tremendous difference.” — Patty Jones, president of PS DDB



David Brown