Parkinson's NSW creates a lorem ipsum generator and goes digital for Awareness month

CEO talks about how it's pivoted its marketing strategy and community support programs to get through the COVID-19 environment

A new creative campaign taking advantage of the ‘lorem ipsum’ generator to raise awareness of Parkinson’s disease and support early detection is just one of the ways Parkinson’s NSW is marking awareness month amid COVID-19.

The not-for-profit’s latest awareness program, dubbed ‘Parkipsum’s’, is based around a Lorem Ipsum generator tool and changes the creative holding text to phrases that shine a light on the disease itself. The campaign was crafted with Wunderman Thompson, and is in recognition of World Parkinson’s Day and Parkinson’s Awareness Month.

The pair have been seeking creative businesses to implement the tool for the month of April, as a way of raising awareness of symptoms of the disease. One of the education challenges is around diagnosis of Parkinson’s, which has no known cause and around 50 symptoms. Another perception the team is trying to address is that many see it as a disease affecting the elderly, when in fact 40,000 people living with the condition are under 50 years of age.

Parkinson’s NSW CEO, Jo-Anne Reeves, told CMO the thinking behind the Parkipsum’s campaign was to engage an audience the NFP doesn’t normally speak to in a fresh and interesting way. 

“Parkinson’s is known as a disease that affects the elderly but this is not the case; it can be those as young as 35,” she pointed out. “The key to living well with Parkinson’s is early diagnosis so the more we can engage our audience in the lesser known symptoms, the greater impact we can have. This campaign allows us to spread awareness of these symptoms to a younger audience who can be on the lookout for them in their older relatives, as well as being cognisant of changes within themselves.”

It’s a different creative approach for Parkinson’s NSW, which has generally focused on engaging consumers through video storytelling.

“We generally find video a great way to connect with people emotionally, which helps drive awareness, shareability and ultimately donations,” Reeves said. “When Wunderman Thompson came to us with this idea, we loved that it was digitally led and so simple and efficient to execute.

“Working with a regular partner, as we have with Wunderman Thompson over the past six years, means we are more willing to test and learn and see what sticks. This idea being so simple, fast and at no cost for go-to-market was a no brainer.”

Anyone that uses lorem ipsum can use ‘Parkipsums’, making it accessible to a wide range of people from Web architects to designers and throughout the creative industry, Reeves continued.

“So far we have had a large number of users jump on and give it a try and we hope that will continue to spread as more people find it organically,” she said.

Campaign success for Reeves is seeing consumers giving it a go and building relationships.

“We will monitor the engagement and number of donations linked from this microsite to our back-end donations system and see how this goes too,” she said. “However, beyond this is the awareness of Parkinson’s and its symptoms. If this message can reach someone who can recognise the symptoms in themselves or their family earlier and get diagnosed sooner, this is a win for us.”  

Digital emphasis in a COVID-19 climate

As every company has been affected by the current climate, so too has Parkinson’s NSW, and at a time when Parkinson’s Awareness Month would take centre stage.

With lots of community activity planned, Reeves said the team has had to pause or recalibrate into a digital playground, impacting things greatly. Messaging and communication, frequency, tone and channels have all also changed.

“We also had another campaign planned for this month, however it didn’t feel right tonally for the current climate so we decided to push this out to later in the year,” she said. “That’s why Parkipsum’s, being simple, light-hearted and perfect for everyone spending more time on their computers, seemed to be an effective step forward.”

The team has also shifted to delivering education in a variety of different ways. Fundraising is traditionally a direct mail letter model, for example, so the shift to an online proposition is tricky, Reeves said. Ninety per cent of Parkinson’s NSW income is from fundraising.

However, Parkinson’s NSW has managed to pivot its array of peer-led physical events, classes and therapy programs to online delivery.

With more than 80 peer-led Support Groups across NSW all meeting face-to-face at least monthly and more often socially, this has been a big shift that’s needed to happen very quickly,” Reeves said. “All therapeutic face-to-face Parkinson’s programs such as singing therapy, art classes and exercise programs are being assessed and tested for online delivery. Health assessments, delivery of supports are all also under assessment for online delivery.”

More examples of brands switching the physical to virtual:

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