A while back I was part of a study for advertising MS related medications. I think I’m the perfect participant because my short term memory is seriously messed up so I’m not likely to remember colors or wording unless it relates to me.
While looking at print ads I had to answer questions based on the information and photographs in each one. One was a couple going to an outdoor, grown-up party, one was an older couple walking on the beach and one was just a dude, at least I am fairly certain that’s what they were. Really, most drug ads are the same, unless they are targeted at kids you won’t see children in the advertisement.
The thing is, most people the companies are targeting, statistically, are mothers since there’s a 4 to 1 ratio of women to men for developing Multiple Sclerosis. The average age of diagnosis is around 35 years old, most women who are planning on having children start around 30 or younger.
When asked what I would want to see in an ad I told the person in charge of the study that I would like to see a mom playing legos with her kid or on the floor playing something else. I have kids, due to MS my fine motor skills are nearly gone so lego building is extremely difficult for my body and frustrating to my brain. I fall down frequently so playing on the floor with my kids is not something I risk because 5 concussions has taught me getting up from the floor can have you fall head first on to it.
I am less likely to go to an outdoor party at night because my fatigue and cognitive function are hindered more after 3 pm. When I see a beach in a commercial I assume it’s a hot one, not like the cool breezy beach of the Big Island in Hawaii, so I cannot see myself there because heat makes all my symptoms worse.
While having people running, riding bikes and other outdoorsy type activities is great because I am certain there are people with MS who want to stay active and do their thing; my goal is to get back a small semblance of my life before MS. I want to be able to hold a conversation with multiple people without my body shutting down the next day. I want to go places with my kids like the zoo or the aquarium or trick or treating.
I hope in the future this will be a change for the better. I hope the companies listen and be a bit more inclusive in their advertising, plenty of people are marginalized with this disease already.