Responses by Puja Shah, creative director, Colle McVoy
Background: The Proof Alliance public service campaign was launched to start a national movement to prevent fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD), the most common cause of preventable brain injury in babies. One in 20 children has FASD. Those facts are clear. But the information on drinking while pregnant is less clear. The campaign uses the truth on drinking during pregnancy in compelling ways to overcome generations of misinformation, bias and untruths, and end FASD one fact at a time.
Reasoning: The simple truth is that no amount of alcohol is safe during pregnancy. So how do you overcome generations of misinformation, bias and untruths to end FASD? You use the one thing you have: proof.
Challenges: With expectant parents being bombarded with messages telling them what they should and shouldn’t do, it was important that the tone of the work wasn’t opinionated or telling them what to do. We wanted to make sure we were presenting them with facts in compelling ways so they can decide what’s best for their baby.
Favorite details: We were all very passionate about the cause. And, at the same time, aware that women were being told what to do with their bodies all the time. We were mindful to do a self-check and make sure our tone was sensitive and aware of that reality. Additionally, the team consisted of many women, including our director, producer, creative director and project manager. This was personally a huge victory for me, since I’m used to working in a male dominant industry.
Specific demands: We wanted it to be authentic, so we didn’t want to conduct model casting. We worked with Proof Alliance to identify children who were affected by FASD. The kids were incredible on camera because they weren’t acting; they were seeing their truth. For instance, when they read the tweets about mistruths, their reactions were better than if we had directed them. However, the shoot was sometimes a challenge. FASD is predominantly an invisible disease that you can’t see on the surface and the effects of FASD often showed through when the young children tried to grasp onto the dialogue and sentences. At times, it was more difficult to hold their attention and have them read the copy.
Anything new: Unfortunately, yes. I am an educated woman and yet, I didn’t know the devastating effects that even a drop of alcohol could have on a baby if the mother drank during pregnancy until I worked on this campaign with Proof Alliance and 10 Thousand Design. In fact, the Institute of Medicine states that alcohol use during pregnancy is even worse than cocaine or heroin use.