Will you fight or flee, asks campaign from MS Society

Effort from Mackie Biernacki sheds light on a startling statistic

Michelle DiPardo April 23, 2015

When faced with the fact that Canada has the highest rate of Multiple Sclerosis in the world, will you fight or will you flee?

That’s the question the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada (MS Society) is asking in its latest national campaign, which focuses on this alarming statistic.

About 100,000 Canadians are currently living with MS. While researchers have yet to figure out why the illness is so prevalent here, the truth is clear — MS is Canada’s disease.

“In marketing, we’re always looking for the elements of surprise, delight or shock, and in this case we found a statistic that shocked,” said Owen Charters, chief marketing and development officer at the MS Society. “If nothing else it’s a conversation- starter. We want people to talk about it, wonder and ask why.”

Developed by Mackie Biernacki (the first major national campaign from the Toronto-based shop since launching last year) “Flee or Flight” consists of two phases; awareness and pledge. The awareness component (which is currently running) forces Canadians to pick a side- flee the country out of fear or stay home and fight.

Flee or Fight - Toronto Star - Feb. 21Two 30-second spots, which focus on Canada’s long history of rising to the challenge, while urging them to do the same for MS, are currently running on TV and in cinemas. All creative drives viewers to endms.ca, where they must make their choice.

Those who choose “flee” are re-directed to a list of ten countries with lower rates of MS and real-time information on flights and real estate prices for those nations. There’s also instructions on how to renounce your Canadian citizenship.

Those who click “fight” get more information about the disease, the chance to make a donation, and tips on how to get involved.

“[Canadians] are quietly patriotic,” Charters said. “If there’s a challenge that is uniquely Canadian and that hits to the point of pride about being Canadian, we’ll take on the challenge…as a country MS is a Canadian problem that we’ve got to solve.”

Charters explained though the stats may look grim, there’s light at the end of the tunnel. More MS research is being done here than anywhere else in the world, leading to the chance Canadian scientists may discover the cure.

“We wanted to shock people with this startling statistic and say that the answer probably lies in Canada as well,” he said. “We have the highest per capita spending on MS research in the world. So if you take that with the fact that we have the highest incident rate, we have two parts of the equation.”

Additional elements of the campaign include social, print, digital, out-of-home and radio. The awareness component of the campaign is running for 60 days, while the pledge portion is slated to launch in May to coincide with MS Awareness Month.

Edelman is handling PR. The media buy was handled internally.