NAMI StigmaBusters, with its dedicated advocates across the country, are successfully fighting the pervasive and hurtful stigma that exists toward persons with mental illness -and- also commending print media, TV and films that send accurate messages to the public.
NAMI StigmaBusters now number 7,500. Numbers do count, so let your voice be heard.
- "FREEDOM" -- SPRINT PCS OFFENSIVE TV COMMERCIAL WITHDRAWN
Thank you for all of your reports about the Sprint PCS Commercial, based on a scene from One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, showing the nurses' station with a line up of patients to receive meds. However, in this commercial the nurses hand the patients a Sprint PCS phone- with the Sprint spokesman dashing in to announce "You are free!" Then the patients, as a chorus, wave their Sprint phones chanting "Freedom!"
Within two weeks of my phone and email contacts, we received the following message from the Sprint PCS Director, Media Relations & Financial Communications:
"Stella-- We promised you a response this week to your recent letter voicing concerns about the current Sprint PCS TV commercial that depicts a scene with mental health patients.
Sprint PCS regrets that this advertisement has caused offense to anyone in the mental health community. We have decided to discontinue this TV commercial just as soon as possible.
Thanks for bringing this matter to our attention."
And a follow up from him:
"Stella-- Let me amend what I just stated. The national rotation of this TV ad will discontinue by tomorrow (June 15th). In some markets, the ad may appear on cable TV or in isolated circumstances through next Tuesday (June 19th) at the latest. That was as quick as we could get them pulled. Please contact us if you or your members see any ads appearing after early next week, but they shouldn't."
NAMI has sent Sprint a letter of appreciation for their prompt attention and action.
- SUCCESSFUL STIGMA BUST BY GEORGIA CONSUMERS
I received a great report, which shows what can be done locally to bust stigmas. I share this report with my CONGRATULATIONS and APPLAUSE to the Georgia Consumers led by Melody Riefer, who carefully planned a campaign to have offensive billboard ads removed.
"My name is Melody Riefer and I am a mental health consumer in Georgia. Dave Lushbaugh of NAMI-Northside in Atlanta, Georgia recommended I pass on this information to you.
A few weeks ago one of the leading radio stations in Atlanta (Star 94 FM) put up a new billboard campaign which spotlighted their "morning-ride-talent" cast in strait jackets with the slogan, "We are committed to having fun." A few days later, a group of consumers representing the Georgia Consumer Leadership Institute, the Georgia Mental Health Consumer Network and the Georgia Consumer Council decided to write a letter and voice our concern about the ad campaign. We asked that the billboards be taken down.
The wonderful support from the advocacy community was swift and certain - absolute support from NAMI-Georgia and other organizations and individuals backed us up all the way. You will read that we experienced a wonderful outcome. The Vice President/General Manager of the radio station ultimately agreed to remove the billboards!
I also want to let you know that as I was researching and preparing for my meeting the VP/GM of the radio station - your archive of NAMI's previous victories in stigma busting was exceedingly helpful to me. Thank you so much for staffing this wonderful resource."
Thank you, Melody, and all Georgia Consumers. We are proud of your positive action. Every success counts!
- KODAK PRINT AD ENDS IN JULY
FROM THE COLUMN: Advertising: 20 Questions for Madison Avenue By STUART ELLIOTT (May 30, 2001 NY TIMES)
* Do marketers like Eastman Kodak, who are running a print advertisement for a new digital video camera-MP3 player showing the product locked in a padded cell to illustrate its "multiple personality," realize that such depictions can be hurtful to people who suffer from mental illness?"
Thank you, Mr. Elliott! A NAMI member also shared a description of the ad:
"I am not easily offended, but I AM OFFENDED!!!!!! There is a Kodak ad I just found (in the July issue of Maxim). It is on page 33. The ad shows a picture of a camera tied up and in a padded cell. Next to it are the quotations, "I'm a video camera," "No, I'm a digital camera," "No, an MP3 Player." "Shut up, I'm a video camera." Underneath the picture it says: "The new Kodak mc3. It's crazy!"
The description reads: "Introducing the multiple-personality mc3. One minute, it's a normal, full-featured MP3 player. But, flip it's switch, and you have one hip digital video camera in your hand."
Our complaints to Kodak's Marketing Department received the following response:
June 19, 2001
Dear Ms. March:
Thank you for your e-mail to Kodak dated June 11, 2001. Your feedback is important to us and we appreciate that you took the time to write.
The "mc3" print ad to which you refer, was not intended to make light of the seriousness of mental disorders. We were trying to illustrate the three different descriptions of the product.
Your letter was both genuine and educational and we regret any insult this advertisement may have caused. We have no plans to run the ad after July 2001.
Director Worldwide Marketing Communications and Vice President, Digital and Applied Imaging Eastman Kodak Company
* With July magazines already on the stands, we will soon see the end of Kodak's demeaning ad. Their marketing department has been educated and is now aware of the need to be sensitive to persons with mental illness.
- KELLOGG'S RAISIN BRAN
We received reports about a TV commercial that showed a man who, after discovering more raisins in the box, faints on the floor. Our members associated it with a character named "T" in "The Sopranos" who has an anxiety attack. Following our phone and FAX communication about our concerns, we received this response from Kellogg's Associate Manager in the Consumer Affairs Department.
"Dear Ms. March:
Thank you for contacting Kellogg Company on behalf of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill regarding our recent advertising for Kellogg' s Raisin Bran. We sincerely appreciate your interest.
The intent of our ad is to focus on Kellogg's Raisin Bran lover's surprise and amazement that we have added 25% more raisins to our package. The man in the ad is named Pete, not "T," and is not a reference to "The Sopranos." We are in no way trying to portray a person who is suffering from mental illness or an anxiety attack.
Viewer reaction, such as yours, is helpful to us and taken into consideration when developing future advertisements. Your concerns have been forwarded to the appropriate company officials and we hope future ads for this and our other products will be more acceptable to you.
Again, thank you for sharing your views and interest in Kellogg Company."
- BURGER KING'S TRADING CARDS
A trading card, which was part of the SHREK promotion, dealing with fairy tales features "The Old Woman who Lived in a Shoe" being taken away in a straitjacket to a waiting ambulance. When I spoke to a Burger King's Consumer Relations Associate, she immediately understood our concerns. However, the trading cards have already been withdrawn since the promotion for this film is complete. She made a note to watch future promotions for any such offense.
Again, an educational opportunity.
- TONY AWARDS FOR BROADWAY SHOWS
These awards are voted on by the members of the American Theatre Wing and Producers Association. In the category of "Best Revival of a Play" they chose One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. The Producer of the Awards selected the most dramatic scene from the play when the award was announced. This scene shows Electro-Convulsive-Therapy. We received reports of offense and horror from many members and did contact the Producer's assistant. As in other cases, one hopes they are better educated for the future.
- TOSHIBA PHOTOCOPIER
The following is from our letter to Toshiba Marketing regarding their TV Commercial:
"We have received numerous reports from our members about the offensive and hurtful TV commercial set in a hospital mental ward, with a patient attempting, through the nurse's window, to do some photocopying, then attempting the same in a cardboard box, etc. This insensitive ad sends a message of misinformation about mental illness that perpetuates stigma.
I doubt you would have a commercial featuring an individual with Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, diabetes, cancer, etc. Mental disorders, which afflict one in five persons, are as devastating as all other disorders of the body and need to be treated with the same sensitivity and respect.
We hope you understand the concerns of our families and their loved ones with mental disorders, not only in our country, but around the world, who are offended by this message indicative of ignorance. We hope you will consider replacing it with a message that describes the great features of your copying machines without offending any group."
We will share their response with you.
- THE SPECIAL ALERT RE: MAUREEN DOWD'S COLUMN
We have received many responses about Maureen Dowd's column, both pro and con. We have read every message. A majority of members agree with our message points, though many others disagree.
Several StigmaBusters shared Dowd's responses to their messages:
" I was writing about the self-absorbed and self-indulgent, not the truly depressed or ill."
"I was not talking about illness. I was talking about taking an antidepressant because a guy takes two days to call instead of three, which is what is happening with 25 year old girls in Washington."
"I was talking about people who are NOT mentally ill, that are overmedicating for no real reason."
"I was not talking about mentally ill or depressed people. I was talking about people who are NOT mentally ill or depressed who still abuse medications."
Thank you for the clarifications, Ms. Dowd. Unfortunately, that wasn't quite the message the column conveyed.