Whose Planet Is It Anyway?

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Pity. It's 100% curable.

This outstanding tagline belongs to an advertising campaign for Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare, a nonprofit hospital and clinics in Minnesota serving children with cerebral palsy and other disabilities. You can learn more about Gillette and its ad campaign by visiting http://www.curepity.org/ (a great domain name, too!) which prominently features an image of a confident and joyful child in a wheelchair. Steven Koop, M.D., who is Gillette's medical director, states on the main page: "Every child has hopes and dreams, and the children who come to Gillette are no different. They simply have more barriers and challenges before them."

I'm posting this example of excellent advertising as a response to a comment on Autism Vox by Marie S., who asked what a positive campaign seeking to raise awareness of services for children with disabilities might look like. Marie was responding to Kristina Chew's discussion of a New York Times article discussing the Ransom Notes controversy. The article discusses the widespread outrage and public condemnation of the stereotypes and stigma perpetuated by the Ransom Notes ads, and it mentions the work of the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network in coordinating a response. Kristina Chew is quoted in the article on the importance of finding a more positive way to frame autism and other conditions.

The reporter also interviewed Dr. Harold Koplewicz of the NYU Child Study Center, who stated that he was surprised by the opposition to the Ransom Notes ad campaign. He seemed to be particularly taken aback by the extent of the criticism from autistic self-advocates and parents of autistic children. The article describes his reaction as follows:

Dr. Koplewicz said he had not considered jettisoning the campaign, but there was some discussion about dropping its two most controversial components: the autism and Asperger’s ads.

He decided to retain the ads after conferring with colleagues whose attitude, he said, "was that some people would be upset but that we should stick with it and ride out the storm."

Nice try, Dr. Koplewicz, but the storm is only going to get stronger. We're not going to shut up, we're not going to go away, and we wouldn't be satisfied even if you did drop the autism and Asperger's ads. Playing the divide and conquer game won't get you anywhere this time. We fully intend to keep on raising hell until every last one of those disgusting Ransom Notes is taken down, NYU makes a sincere apology, and disability rights groups are invited to play a meaningful role in designing a replacement ad campaign that promotes understanding and respect.

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  • Thank-you abfh.

    By Blogger hollywoodjaded, at 3:02 AM  

  • Well said!

    By Blogger Casdok, at 3:47 AM  

  • What a fantastic campaign! I like this: "They don't want pity. They deserve admiration and respect."

    And this: "That’s what we’re trying to communicate with this campaign. That Gillette does provide a cure for one of the most insidious human conditions of all—pity." They have TV commercials and soon will follow with magazine ads and airport advertising.

    I hadn't heard of the campaign -- thanks for passing it along!

    Marie S.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:40 AM  

  • I don't know if you noticed, but Dr. Koplewicz has now raised his vampire rhetoric a further notch and is quoted in the NY Daily News as saying ""It's time for psychotic disorders to be equal to physical disorders." I believe he is trying to neutralize the opposition by saying it's people are "psychotic". I think the ugliness in his heart is starting to scream at a higher pitch now that he is being challenged which is something I'm sure he's not accustomed to.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:08 AM  

  • One of the ads I've always liked is the National Down Syndrome Society's "Dreams"

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:20 AM  

  • Very cool, Cure Pity. Thanks for this excellent information.

    By Blogger Bev, at 9:27 AM  

  • We've been to that hospital when we lived in St. Paul--memories.

    By Blogger kristina, at 10:00 AM  

  • I called him. http://kibblesbits.wordpress.com

    I had to leave a message but I felt better. Creep.

    By Blogger bbssgg, at 11:06 AM  

  • Good grief, someone gets it.

    By Blogger elmindreda, at 11:46 AM  

  • I'm glad to hear your message in the last paragraph; we won't accept the divide and conquer game. All people deserve a basic level of respect and dignity, not just the groups "I belong to".

    I'm impressed with the Downs Syndrome ad link provided by CS, that was a positive and helpful message. If an ad like that were put forward for autism I would be proud for my son to see it. I'm afraid everytime I see or hear of a negative ad, I DON'T WANT my son exposed to them! I'm so angry when I consider the damage these negative ads do to children and young people who are already struggling to find their place in this world.

    It's simply wrong to allow it to continue.

    There should be a resposibility on the part of ALL disability organisations that their ads increase understanding and help people, especially vulnerable children! Ads that reinforce stigma and prejudice against ANY people with disabilities should be outlawed in the same way we don't allow discrimination against race, colour, creed

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:08 PM  

  • I live in Minnesota and I can definitely say Gillette is a wonderful place. That was one of the first places I was referred to for J several years ago and the staff there was fantastic. They really helped us in the preliminary steps of getting J's diagnosis and referred us to other doctors who have become like family. I love seeing this ad campaign and know I'll continue to support Gillette.

    By Blogger michele_k, at 11:12 PM  

  • I can't help thinking of "Gillette - the best a man can get" (possibly UK only reference) ;)

    Good to see that there is something out there countering the pity and cure campaigns tho...

    By Blogger stevethehydra, at 1:13 PM  

  • NEXT STEPS - they are not hearing us

    They have not responded to our requests to pull the campaign and it sounds like we are really emboldening Harold Koplewicz and his boss, Robert Grossman, appears to be letting Koplewicz see the campaign through. I found some contacts that are over both of their heads and we need to promote a major emailing, writing and phone calling campaign to Medical Center Board Chairman Kenneth Langone, NYU President John Sexton, and NYU Trustee Chairman Martin Lipton. Here is their contact info; PLEASE help get the word out.

    Kenneth Langone, Board Chairman
    New York University Medical Center
    (212) 421-2500
    375 Park Avenue, 22nd Floor
    New York, NY 10152

    Martin Lipton, Board of Trustee Chairman
    New York University
    (212) 403-1200
    51 West 52nd Street, 29th Floor
    New York, NY 10019

    John Sexton, President
    New York University
    (212) 998-2345
    70 Washington Square South, 12th Floor
    New York, NY 10012

    PLEASE share and posted this elsewhere.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:08 PM  

  • BS"D

    Someone ought to post up billboards in New York which read, "Coercive Psychiatry: The REAL Hostage Takers."

    Dr. Koplewicz's campaign to forcibly drug our kids -- and that is what the treatment" at NYU is all about; it is psychiatric drug pushing -- is 100% curable as well. We need to abolish involuntary outpatient commitment laws and free everyone from the coercive power of the psychiatric lobby.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:43 PM  

  • Someone ought to post up billboards in New York which read, "Coercive Psychiatry: The REAL Hostage Takers."

    That's an absolutely BRILLIANT idea. If i had Photoshop, then right now i'd be knocking up a set of ransom notes from psychiatrists, special schools, nursing homes, etc about how they have taken neurodiverse or otherwise disabled people hostage (literally, not metaphorically)...

    By Blogger stevethehydra, at 9:26 PM  

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