Six smiling faces of fellow people with diabetes stare out from the pages of BusinessWeek, each in support of the message displayed in big white letters: “Type 1 diabetes tests us. Every day.”
In black letters below the collage, the second half of the message: “But JDRF has our backs.”
The rest of the ad is a pitch for the JDRF, mentioning how diabetes tests the patience of every PWD and our families and impacts our outlook, but how those at the 42-year-old organization are also testing themselves every day to help fund research that could prevent, treat, and possibly cure type 1 diabetes. So that someday, “we won’t have to.”
This ad ran in Bloomberg News-owned BusinessWeek magazine’s Sept. 10 issue of their North American edition and also in the Oct. 1 issue of the New York and Washington D.C. metro editions.
This is JDRF’s second ad campaign running in top-tier mainstream media in less than a year, but it takes a detour from the more biting and controversial ad that ran in November 2011. In that ad appearing in the New York Times and Washington Post , the JDRF took a “shock and awe” approach by stating that 1 in 20 people with diabetes, like the girl named Piper pictured in the ad, would die from a low blood sugar. The ad specifically stated that the FDA could help prevent this from happening through technology it approves.
The new one certainly has a different tone. But still, many of us might be questioning its purpose and whether it’s worth the cost of publishing in such a widely-read (i.e. expensive) magazine?
Well, this might surprise you: the ad was published for less than the cost of a glucose test strip… Actually, it didn’t cost the JDRF a single penny!
Bill Sorensen, a fellow PWD who is the JDRF’s National Director of Media Relations, told the ‘Mine that Bloomberg News donated the ad space, which would normally cost thousands of dollars – actually about $73,500 according to online resources. Bill also told us that Grey Advertising in NYC donated their time to help produce this public service ad campaign.
This ad comes almost a year after the JDRF went through a rebranding effort last year, which most significantly is now downplaying the term “juvenile” in its name by focusing on using just the acronym “JDRF” to be more inclusive of the total type 1 population (us adult T1s, too!).
The highlight of the rebranding move was JDRF’s appearance on the AMC reality show “The Pitch” over the summer. JDRF is still talking with the winning ad team that pitched the new tagline, “Be the Voice of One.”
Sorensen and his colleague Karen Brownlee, JDRF’s National Director of Advertising and Promotion, explained that the new BusinessWeek ad is part of the PSA campaign that resulted from the rebranding efforts. The campaign also includes new radio and TV spots, coming soon.
“It takes awareness to raise money for diabetes, and more people in the general population – regular folk along with those in political and governmental roles – need to know more about the distinctions between the various types of diabetes,” she said. “They need to know type 1 isn’t just about the kids, and that 85% of the type 1s are adults. Some are famous in their own celebrity ways, many aren’t.”
In contrast to the earlier ads using scare tactics, these new PSA ads “are aimed at a broader audience. The goal is to deliver a general message about JDRF and our brand, raise awareness of T1D, and the need to fund research,” the two staffers told us.
The goal of the hypoglycemia ads was to target the decision-makers at the FDA as it was about to announce guidance on further research regarding development of the JDRF-funded artificial pancreas program, Brownlee says.
“For JDRF, it was/is crucial that development is not delayed due to unclear and undefined development requirements for approval or by unnecessary regulatory roadblocks. Based on the FDA’s ultimate artificial pancreas trial guidance that has paved the way for further clinical testing, JDRF views our advocacy campaign in this area (which the ad was a part of) as a success.”
Some new PSA ads have already been delivered to radio and TV stations across the country, and when they are run is up to each station. The FCC requires a certain amount of commercial time be given to non-profit enterprises, so this is a freebie for JDRF, too.
We wondered: do other national advocacy organizations spend a chunk of their money on high-profile advertising campaigns?
When queried, the American Diabetes Association said that it doesn’t have a set paid-ad budget, but “when budget allows and the opportunity is beneficial,” it does pay for advertising on a case-by-case basis and works with various vendors to place PSAs.
This according to spokeswoman Anna Baker, who also says November is the busiest time of year for advertising, being American Diabetes Month. They also place more ads around the ADA’s Diabetes Alert Day on the fourth Tuesday in March – though both campaigns get free promotion and Baker said November gets more pickup as the diabetes is in the public eye for a whole month.
Baker said the organization measures return on investment by the estimated value of media impressions.
Two recent examples from 2011 include the Step Out: Walk to Stop Diabetes, in which the ADA worked with a vendor to place radio and television PSAs that earned impressions valued at approximately 7.5 times what was paid. And for the 2012 Tour de Cure season, the PSAs in 10 high-value markets received about a 17 times return on investment, Baker says.
Does the idea of advocacy organizations spending money on costly ad spots bother anyone?
Perhaps, but even the watchdog organization Juvenile Diabetes Cure Alliance (JDCA) takes no issue with JDRF’s new BusinessWeek ad. The ad’s not “particularly egregious in any way,” since it didn’t cost anything, said fellow PWD and the JDCA’s associate editor Nick Masercola.
From our perspective here at the ‘Mine, people do need to know more about the differences in types of diabetes, from the media to the general public and decision-makers in Washington D.C. and beyond. Getting more attention on that is commendable, and we applaud the JDRF for taking that message to BusinessWeek’s pages – especially at such bargain rates!