Medium and message

How the Motor Neurone Disease Association reached audiences in independent cinemas

Sarah's Story (Motor Neurone Disease Association)
Sarah's Story (Motor Neurone Disease Association)

Sarah's Story is a 90-second film created for the Motor Neurone Disease Association that illustrates the progression of the disease by telling the story of Sarah Ezekiel, a young woman with MND.

An actor's head is superimposed on Ezekiel's body to show the disease's muscle-wasting effects as her condition deteriorates. The charity persuaded advertising company Pearl & Dean to distribute the film to 50 independent cinemas across England and Wales during two weeks in January and February.

Donna Cresswell, director of communications at the association, says it believed the film was the best way to convey to a wide audience how the disease affects the human body. "The moving image allows you to graphically illustrate the emotional and physical impact on the person and stop people in their tracks," she says. "It's more effective than a poster campaign, which has a limited captive audience and cannot demonstrate the process so well.

"With Sarah's Story, we didn't set out to shock, but the progression of motor neurone disease is shocking and we wanted to bring this truth home to people."

The campaign cost about £500,000, but the cost to the charity was minimal. Filmmaker Bare Films sponsored the video and the creative work was done pro-bono by two former Saatchi & Saatchi employees. It is the first time a film on the effects of motor neurone disease has been shown in UK cinemas.

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