Unexpected and Engaging Public Service Announcement Raises Awareness for Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis

NEW YORK, Jan. 8, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Known collectively as inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis affects approximately 1 in 200 people[1] yet less than 50 percent of people in the US are familiar with the diseases.[2] The Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA) is launching a comprehensive and compelling new awareness campaign in order to raise awareness for these chronic illnesses.

IBD are painful, medically incurable diseases that attack the digestive system. Symptoms may include abdominal pain, persistent diarrhea, bleeding, fever, severe fatigue and weight loss. Many patients require numerous hospitalizations and surgery. The fastest growing patient population is children under the age of 18.

The campaign features acclaimed actress Amy Brenneman, who has suffered from ulcerative colitis, and is now a proud supporter of CCFA. The campaign also includes the feet of everyday people where they spend far too much time--in bathroom stalls.

"By putting 'the bathroom issue' front and center, we want to engage people, raise awareness, and demonstrate our commitment and compassion. The entire CCFA organization is committed to battling this serious condition on multiple fronts," said Richard Geswell, President of the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America.

Enlisting the pro-bono help of Draftfcb, the campaign utilizes the bathroom for a simple reason--it's easy to recognize. And sympathize. The campaign is about helping people understand how difficult it is to live with IBD, while reminding people that have IBD that there's no reason to hide a normal daily activity. The campaign is designed to raise awareness to help those in need by visualizing the constant disruption of IBD. Showing different feet under the doors of bathroom stalls is meant to highlight the issues surrounding IBD, not explain all the symptoms.

The feet that are featured represent all of us--everyday people dealing with the condition. To add a little visual interest, the feet of a few "well known" characters were included to make a simple point: anyone can have IBD.

As a former sufferer of the condition, Amy Brenneman was looking for a way to support the CCFA. "I hope my involvement can help spark a dialogue and support," actress and producer Amy Brenneman said. "Someone you know--family, friends, co-workers, neighbors--is struggling with IBD right now. And he or she deserves our help. It's time we stood up to this condition."

"We were delighted when she agreed to lend her support and time to help us launch this new campaign," Geswell said. "Our hope is that Amy's personal story and presence inspires others to spread the word. We are very grateful to Amy and Draftfcb for bringing this campaign to life."

The creative elements of the campaign include a :30 second TV spot, print ads, outdoor (airport and billboards), bathroom stickers and online banner ads. The call to action is to "help someone you know. Visit www.escapethestall.com today."

The PSA in the Making

After Amy agreed to participate in an awareness campaign, National Board of Trustees Member and accomplished advertising executive John Crosson guided CCFA through the process of securing a pro-bono ad agency. The global ad agency Draftfcb expressed interest in the project.

"Giving back is an integral part of our corporate culture and this seemed like a challenging and rewarding project," said Mike Devlin, Creative Director at Draftfcb. "We had many volunteers from every discipline – strategy, account and create--that wanted to get involved."

CCFA was involved in every step of the process including the initial creative sessions.

"Talking about IBD is not easy. It's a difficult subject, rife with embarrassment and secrecy," Devlin said. "Our goal with this campaign is to humanize these diseases and make them easier to discuss."

Thanks to Draftfcb's extensive network they were able to bring award-winning director Steve Chase and photographer Dan Escobero into the project, both of whom also donated their services. A true industry veteran, Chase has shot it all. Known as much for his commercial work with comedy, dialogue, healthcare, sports, celebrities and automotive action as he is for branded content and helming concept-based productions on a massive scale or shooting VFX-heavy projects, the directorʼs lauded talent and experience are appreciated by major agencies and brands worldwide.

"I was struck by how brave the advertising is and how simple the message is. Draftfcb created a spot that tells the truth in a straight forward singular message: This can happen to anybody. The next pair of feet could be mine or yours. I love that kind of advertising. I'm thrilled I was asked to participate," Chase said.

[1] GASTROENTEROLOGY 2012;142:46–54

[2] OmniTel Overnight CCFA Awareness Pre Wave, October 2012

Contact: Erin Stoeber, estoeber@ccfa.org or 646-943-7458

About CCFA

The Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA) is the largest voluntary non-profit health organization dedicated to finding cures for Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (IBD). CCFA's mission is to cure Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, and to improve the quality of life of children and adults who suffer from these diseases. The Foundation works to fulfill its mission by funding research, providing educational resources for patients and their families, medical professionals, and the public, and furnishing supportive services for those afflicted with IBD. For more information, visit www.ccfa.org, call 888-694-8872, like us on Facebook, find us on LinkedIn or follow us on Twitter.

About Draftfcb

With an equal focus on creativity and accountability, Draftfcb is committed to producing brilliant ideas that change consumer behavior. As a global, fully integrated marketing communications agency operating against a single P&L, Draftfcb provides clients with highly collaborative, channel-neutral thinking that delivers engagement and, most importantly, action. With nearly 140 years of combined expertise, Draftfcb has roots in both consumer advertising and behavioral, data-driven direct marketing. The agency's corporate leadership team includes Howard Draft, executive chairman; Laurence Boschetto, CEO and president; Jonathan Harries, vice chairman emeritus & executive advisor, global creative; and Neil Miller, chief operating officer. The Draftfcb network spans 150 offices in 90 countries and employs nearly 9,000 people. The agency is part of the Interpublic Group of Companies (NYSE:IPG). For more information, visit www.draftfcb.com.

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Source: The Crohn's &Colitis Foundation of America(CCFA)