Toronto-made PSA gets Super Bowl exposure for ALS
January 29, 2013 | Rebecca Harris | Comments
A PSA from a small Toronto agency is making a big play during this year’s Super Bowl in New Orleans.
The Conversation Farm created a powerful one-minute video for New Orleans-based Team Gleason, a charitable organization that raises awareness of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and helps those suffering from the disease.
The stark black-and-white video features several high-profile NFL players and coaches, past and present, who describe the devastating effects of ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
The spot ends with a message from the charity group’s founder, Steve Gleason, a former New Orleans Saints player who is battling the disease. In a wheelchair and struggling to speak, Gleason says, “let’s put our heads together and find a cure for ALS.”
“As a disease, ALS sort of lives in the shadows,” said Michael Scher, founder of The Conversation Farm. “It strikes maybe one in 100,000, which, despite the seriousness of the illness, is not enough to really keep it front and centre in the public’s imagination.” Because the Super Bowl is being held in New Orleans this year, “Steve wanted to use his celebrity as a professional football player to bring some public attention to the disease and to the people who are suffering with it.”
The Conversation Farm was approached by Team Gleason last fall. To create buzz without a big marketing budget, “the idea was to leverage the celebrity status and the network that these players were able to bring to [table],” said Scher, who released the video online this week. Players and others in the sports world are actively promoting the spot on social media networks.
The ad will be shown on the Mercedes-Benz Superdome’s large digital display during Sunday’s Super Bowl, and Scher said there’s now talk there may be some airtime available for the spot during the CBS broadcast.
“This is all unfolding as we go,” said Scher.