Parkinson’s Awareness week on 18 to 24 April 2016 is only 4 months away and as usual it will have a theme. This theme represents us so I would like as many comments as possible because it will be interesting to hear views on our expectations of publicity. I don’t know this year’s slogan so we have the opportunity to debate our views without feeling we have to support the coming event.
“Up your friendly” was the Parkinson’s Uk slogan for 2015 Awareness week and my initial reaction was what does this mean. It came accompanied by pictures of bears. We have seen Pudsey as a successful mascot for Children In Need so lets top that with a whole shed load of bears, but theres a problem. If I was to sum up our bears with one word it would be “Truculent” I like that word. Means ready to argue defiant etc. If you asked Goldilocks I am sure she would have said to beware of these bears. They done look like bears who would share their porridge or that would let you sit in their seat let alone allow you to lie on their bed. They just don’t look friendly. It is the body language the folded arms is closed and with so many it just looks menacing I tried to write a poem for awareness week but nothing came to me. The up your friendly slogan didn’t inspire. Instead I wrote “Dignity” Yes it does ask people to be nicer but does it with a hint of punk with some angry sentiments,
Would you take away someone dignity. their confidence, their independence?
A woman cant use cutlery properly because Parkinson’s has impaired her manual dexterity and her hand shakes ,
She has difficulty eating and swallowing.
Would you laugh?, would you point? would you stare?,
Would you understand? ,No one likes public humiliation .
If you take their dignity they will the ever eat in public again.
Would you damage someones confidence?
A man freezes at a ticket gate at a train station do you stay calm and wait?
Or do you push him? Do you heckle and berate?
Rushing him will make it worse.
Will you be the one too finally shatter his confidence.
A man walks into the supermarket.
He is unsteady on his feet and slurs his speech.
Would you shake your head and think him drunk?
Would you listen carefully enough to hear him explain he has Parkinsons?
Would this make him anxious about being in public
Would you shake his faith in his independence?
My poem dignity was hardly in the same spirit as up your friendly. So what is my problem wth “Up your Friendly? It came across to me like a Mission Statement of a large Corporation as bland. A slogan chosen to inoffensive rather than effective. I felt they were playing it safe. It is easy to ask people to be more friendly to those with Parkinson’s. but everyone should be more friendly to everyone.I have to say though it does fit with wanting people to understand and be patient with those struggling with Parkinson’s symptoms.
The Parkinson Society Canada took a different approach with the TV advert a struggle. For me they went too far their fight that the person with Parkinson is too sudden and brutal to represent Parkinsons accurately. It was certainly not bland but my problem is although eyecatching and its shock value would be effective in raising money it might be very disturbing to anyone newly diagnosed. That in turn could lead them to disengage and isolate themselves.
What do I want? In recent years Parkinson’s UK themes Taking back control , Put yourself in my shoes, Find a cure have all had their merits but I prefer “find a cure” a positive message that people with or without Parkinson’s can join in with. It still had the flexibility on the need for a cure so that messages about the reality of Parkinson’s can be included.
An example of excellent marketing is the “Race for life”, A positive and easily understood title that is still reflecting the serious side of the charity. Three words that have become a brand.
Members of Parkinsons UK seem most comfortable with a positive message they can support. What do you want? Please use comments to add your thoughts. Suggestions for future slogans welcome. I will discuss our views with Parkinson’s UK and although too late to change whatever decisions made for the awareness week in April, as Parkinson’s is for life not just for awareness week it might provide us with direction for the future.
Your views please?