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Behind the Real Life Glitches of Alzheimer’s


BBDO Germany’s CCO Kristoffer Heilemann on working with the Alzheimer Forschung Initiative (AFI) to visually represent the effects of the disease, writes LBB’s Nisna Mahtani

Behind the Real Life Glitches of Alzheimer’s

What would it be like to live without your most precious memories? Sadly, those who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease have to go through just that – the world becomes unclear, moments go amiss and confusion take over. But many of us can’t fathom what that would feel or look like – and that’s where this campaign comes in. 

Agency BBDO Germany and the Alzheimer Forschung Initiative (AFI) were determined to visually represent the disease, raise awareness and create a resource that will help families, friends and strangers understand what it feels like to live with Alzheimer’s. To create this campaign, the team consulted with neurologist Dr. Michael Lorrain, to accurately capture the Datamosh effect – the brainwaves of patients who are diagnosed with the illness. 

Directed by Caviar’s Pedro Giomi, as we see the first person perspective of these ‘glitches’ in brainwaves, scenarios become unclear, forgetfulness takes over and the protagonist becomes increasingly uneasy. Towards the end, in the emotional spot, we see loved ones become strangers and realise just how important research into the disease really is.

Sharing more about the process behind the moving spot is BBDO Germany’s chief creative officer Kristoffer Heilemann who speaks with LBB’s Nisna Mahtani.

LBB> What was the Alzheimer Forschung Initiative (AFI) keen to showcase within this moving campaign?

Kristoffer> Creating more awareness for an illness everybody knows but is still incurable. Therefore, Alzheimer Forschung wanted to collect donations to push science forward. It was about looking behind the scenes and experiencing the very personal daily lives of Alzheimer's patients and their families, which we wanted to approach as sensitively and empathetically as possible.

LBB> How did you land on using a visual representation of the disease to depict how it affects daily life?

Kristoffer> We have been working with them for more than five years. In the last campaign, which was also very successful, we used jigsaw puzzles to visualise what goes on in the minds of Alzheimer's patients. This time we were looking for a more digital approach and found the insight that digital glitches (corrupted files) work in the same way as Alzheimer's.

LBB> Can you tell us about some of the insight you received from the Alzheimer Forschung Initiative and neurologist Dr. Michael Lorrain, and how this impacted the creative direction of the spot?

Kristoffer> Dr. Lorrain liked the idea from the beginning and helped to develop the storyline with all the latest scientific insights. This includes, for example, the typical situations that patients and their families find themselves in, the different stages of the disease, and the latest studies. We also had the opportunity to talk to patients and their families.

LBB> You use the Datamosh effect to show hazy moments of transition which patients of the disease suffer from. Can you tell us a little about how you integrated this?

Kristoffer> Alzheimer's affects short-term memory. This means that patients mix up situations because they forgot what they did a few minutes ago. The datamosh effect shows this strange transition. 

LBB> Talk us through the target demographic for the campaign and how that impacted the direction and stylistic choices you made.

Kristoffer> We were looking for something that speaks to everyone and gives people an insightful and ‘fresh’ view. The ‘digital’ look and feel may attract a younger demographic. But even if you have never heard of datamoshing, you can understand the story and the need to donate

LBB> What was the editing process like? Did you face any challenging moments?

Kristoffer> Because of the visual transitions and the POV perspective, the film had to be planned down to the last detail. A lot of discussions went into the visual effects.

LBB> Where did you find inspiration for the name of the campaign and why was it a fitting title?

Kristoffer> The inspiration came from video games and the use of digital tools. We liked the aesthetics of that. And it was really hard to recreate something that happens by chance. We liked the simplicity of ‘The Glitch’. It comes from a digital world, but it describes really well what happens in the brain.

LBB> What does the first person perspective add to the spot? Were any other angles or perspectives considered?

Kristoffer> The perspective was a very conscious choice. We all know the POV perspective from computer games. It makes us feel close and invites the viewer to see the world through the eyes of an Alzheimer’s patient. In the end, we change perspective for the first time and see the bigger picture.

LBB> How have people reacted to the spot? Have any Alzheimer's sufferers found a piece of their lives depicted in the spot?

Kristoffer> People who have seen the film react emotionally. In a very honest way. Of course, the film was intended to evoke emotional reactions, and the music also helps to evoke emotion, but we wanted to do it in a way that was not superficial.

LBB> What’s next for the campaign?

Kristoffer> We are working on a possible translation of the glitch idea into a [continuous integration] CI and design system. And together with our partner AFI, we want to find the next creative evolution of the campaign.

LBB> Is there anything else you’d like to share?

Kristoffer> Thank you to everyone who has helped to make this project a reality, who has supported the campaign and donated to Alzheimer's research.

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BBDO Group Germany, Fri, 24 Feb 2023 17:20:00 GMT