The brief for this campaign was simple and clear: raise awareness about dementia, a disease that isn’t well known by the majority of the Belgian society. Dementia is still far too often associated with older people, by patients and doctors alike.
Young onset dementia affects around 6.000 people in Flanders. Unfortunately, as a result, when young and active people encounter the symptoms for the first time, they are too ashamed to go see a doctor. Research shows: it takes an average of no less than 4 years before patients receive the correct diagnosis. This means patients lose 4 years treating diseases they don’t have, instead of preparing for the journey ahead with Alzheimer’s. That’s why the Alzheimer League Flanders wanted to break the taboo of young onset dementia.
The Alzheimer League Flanders and DDB Brussels launched a series of radio-documentaries to give young onset dementia sufferers a voice. It was aired on national radio during prime time. Six courageous patients shared their dearest memory, the one which they refuse to lose. The memory was followed by an emotional passage in which they say that their finest memories will never disappear. “Alzheimer’s will never rob me of these wonderful memories.”
The documentaries called upon other dementia patients to immortalize their dearest memories on ‘imstillhere.be’. A new platform where people can record messages and have them sent to their loved ones on a future date of their choice when dementia might have taken over and they may no longer be able to tell them themselves.
In Belgium, most radio commercials are no longer than 30 seconds. But to create impact, and to tell a powerful story, you need more. So, we aired 90 seconds radio recordings. Right before the news bulletins to attract the attention of journalists. And it worked. It immediately became the most shared topic in Belgium and got picked up by radio, press and television.
The winning formula of this campaign was: teamwork. Along with radio studio Raygun and production company Landvogel, we were able to create this beautiful piece of work. Special thanks to Liesbeth from Raygun for the impressive support. What a wonderful job she did. Not only did she give us all possible time in studio, she also helped to interview the dementia sufferers. The craftsmanship afterwards and the beautiful music – written by Peter Baert – made this campaign into pure and touching radio.
Because at the end, this campaign was really sincere. When talking to people, affected by this terrible disease, we felt very small. It took us hours in the studio with these people. We smiled, laughed and cried. We gave those people a voice. And listened to their stories. Some of them were honest about their deepest feelings, their battles and even about euthanasia.
The day we launched these radio-spots, we got overwhelmed by press. “I’m still here” put early-onset dementia on the public agenda. It got featured on the front pages of Belgium’s biggest newspapers and became prime time news on national television. This resulted in other radio stations airing the portraits as well and free media space in all Belgian cinema halls. Two days after the campaign, the biggest Belgian newspaper dedicated a full-page article with all the (readers’) letters they received about the campaign.
I remember text messages of the dementia patients, telling me how touched they were with all positive reactions. They felt relieved people finally understood their battle. The whole week we kept in touch. They were so proud. Months later when this campaign won a Golden award at Eurobest, Patriek and Inge wrote to me on Facebook – they felt like real stars. And to be honest: they really are.
Client: Alzheimer Liga Vlaanderen
Client contacts: Hilde Lamers, Laura Weyns
Agency: DDB Brussels
Creative directors: Peter Ampe, Odin Saille
Creation: Kenn Van Lijsebeth
Account team: Sylvie De Couvreur, Silvie Erzeel, Anneleen Vande Voorde
Photographer: Dieter Hautman
Grapic Designer: Wietse De Ridder
Development: Christophe Gesquière
Digital producer: Adeline André
Music composer: Peter Baert
Sound engineer: Mathias Lewis
Production company: Landvogel
DOP: Tiele Mulier
Executive Producer: Yannick Verdonck
Offline edit: Tom Syryn
Online edit: Glenn Renard
Met dank aan: Expertisecentrum Paradox, VZW Het Ventiel, Liesbeth Demolder (Raygun), Thomas Cassiers (Landvogel), Annemie Pauwels (VAR)