May 09, 2007

Innovative Schizophrenia Research Study Advertisement from Australia

A schizophrenia research group out of Australia is doing some very innovative recruitment and public education ads for a new schizophrenia research study - and its posting them on the Internet where everyone can see them. We hope other research and mental health advocacy groups around the world will follow their lead.

In addition to these Ads it would be a great idea for these research organizations wanting to promote their studies to do educational video interviews with the researchers on the topic of their research. In these videos (which would be posted on YouTube) the researchers could cover frequently asked questions and answers that family members might be expected to have, as well as explain how the research is hoped to move the state of the knowledge forward and ultimately help the extended family that participates. These videos would serve as a valuable educational resource for individuals and families and would increase knowledge of, and participation in, these important studies.

We're now in the unique situation where researchers can get their message - via online ads and videos - directly to the people they want to reach. At the same time we -- the individuals and families -- can get information directly from the researchers on their exciting new studies that will move the science forward and help find a cure.

In this case $3.5M was raised in 2006 to establish the Australian Schizophrenia Research Bank (ASRB), to search for cures for schizophrenia. The ASRB seeks to recruit 4,000 Australians to take part in this project.

To recruit participants in their study they have been fortunate to obtain the pro bono services of Singleton Ogilvy & Mather (a major Australian advertising agency) to create a multimedia campaign. They have created a fantastic television commercial with Russell Crowe (the Australian actor who played John Nash in A Beautiful Mind) who has contributed the voiceover. Click below to watch the video advertisement. Read more below about how they developed the ad and campaign.

To listen to the radio advertisement, click here

To See their print ad that is going in magazines, click here: Download file

We hope other research groups around the world will learn from these efforts and make similar public education and recruitment campaigns. We applaud Daren Draganic, the Executive Director & Research Manager at the ASRB - and the team that developed this program. Kudos also to the advertising company and Russell Crowe for donating their time and effort to this important project. Its great to see some innovative and high quality new approaches to getting the message out to a broader audience.

We spoke with Daren Dragnic by email today and this is what he had to say about the effort: How did you get the advertising company to do the pro bono work?

Daren Dragnic: As usual - through connections. A former Board member of the Institute knows the director of the agency and asked him to support the creation of the advertisement. We were only initially seeking a tv ad, but the team at the agency got so into it we also got a radio ad, print advertising, etc. They were able to get the production company who shot the ad (Plush Films) to donate their time as well and the director Peter Bloomfield (who worked on Con Air and other movies) really got into it. We ended up shooting the ad on the set they made the new Star Wars and Superman movies in Australia, which was pretty cool.

We also were fortunate to have a major call center in Australia (McKesson Asia Pacific) donate the infrastructure at their center to handle the calls of volunteers.

Russell Crowe also donated his time (I still can’t believe we got him). Now that you've got the ad, what are you doing with it? Where is it showing?

Daren Dragnic: All the major commercial television stations in Australia and our cable tv network (Foxtel) have agreed to run the ad for 4-6 weeks in community service advertising slots. About 10 radio stations have also agreed to run the ad.

This means it’s free but it’s at their discretion when it is played. However, usually they are pretty good at supporting charities this way. How much are you planning to spend on radio, TV and other advertising? Are you getting time donated for that also?

Daren Dragnic: See above – all free. When did you kick off the ad program - and how is it going so far?

Daren Dragnic: It’s only really starting now but as a result of the launch of the program last week and the resultant tv, radio, press reports we have already got about 400 volunteers. People want to be involved, you just need to get the message out. What recommendations would you give to other schizophrenia research groups that are looking to do something similar?

Daren Dragnic: I don’t really know. Unfortunately these things tend to come down to personal connections and who knows who. We could never have done this without the head of the agency giving it his blessing and it all rolled on from there. We are all still in a bit of shock as to how much people gave to support this campaign. How long did it take to pull together? What are some key issues groups should plan for?

Daren Dragnic: From the first meetings with the agency people it took about 6 months to create the campaign. It was a relatively easy process and the people we worked with were fantastic and very enthusiastic about being able to do something that ‘mattered’.

For more information: Schizophrenia Research Bank

To learn about the US-based Schizophrenia Research that you can participate in - visit here and here.


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