Ataxia UK; a charity which offers support to people suffering from one of the UK's least recognised genetic neurological disorders, which affect balance, coordination and speech, have recently teamed up with advertising agency TBWA/London and celebrity photographer Rankin to raise awareness for the illness. The poster campaign (which is a first for the charity) features black and white images of real people suffering from the condition, which have been distorted to emulate the perspective of the world seen by those affected. The images are stark, undeniably shocking (but not frightening), and yet beautiful in their own way, and really underline the realities of the illness, without having to rely on reams of text.
The images are stark, undeniably shocking (but not frightening), and yet beautiful in their own way
The startling effect of the posters was achieved by Rankin and TBWA/London with the help of art director Paul Belford. Belford placed the images (shot by Rankin) into a flatbed scanner and moved them around during the scanning process to achieve the distorted effect. The images are accompanied by strap-lines which compare the disease to similar, more well-known conditions and also include text which warns of the diseases aggression in young sufferers and its links to diabetes and heart disease. There is also a link to the charity's website and an invitation to donate. The campaign was launched on Monday, and will run nationwide in the press and out of home.
Sue Millman, chief executive for Ataxia UK hopes the campaign will help raise public awareness of the condition. She says that whilst most people are aware of neurological conditions such as Motor Neurone disease and Parkinson's, “Degenerative conditions like ataxias, which have similar symptoms and affect people in a similar way, are not well known.” Indeed, there are around 10,000 people in the UK affected by Ataxia, but a YouGov poll has revealed that only 9% of British adults actually know what it is, with the rest assuming it was the name of an investment company! Millman believes that part of the problem is there are no “Famous faces affected by ataxia” to fight in their corner, they feel genuinely invisible as a result. She hopes the campaign will go some way towards changing this, and will “really bring attention to what it's like living with the condition.”
It is hoped that the campaign will help catalyse a sea-change for the charity
There are various forms of the condition with symptoms including sight, hearing, speech and co-ordination problems, which can vary in severity. Regardless of the symptoms, however, most sufferers will eventually lose mobility, and at present, there is no known cure or even treatment for the illness. Millman hopes the campaign will help catalyse a sea-change for the charity and the illness, and that people will get behind them so they can “Raise funds and continue researching how to help cure of effectively treat the condition.” She says the charity will “Aim to give the best care and support available” until that goal is achieved.
Benjamin Hiorns is a freelance writer who, upon doing research for this article, was so taken by what he read that he decided to donate a fraction of his own paycheque to Ataxia UK. He implores others to do likewise.