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Michelle Orlando
Rachel Kennedy, art director
Shauna Roe, writer
Helen Pak/Brian Sheppard, executive creative directors
Andrew Bodis/Alex Pana, The Development Factory, Toronto, developers
Boombox Sound, sound designer
Simon Conlin/Lisa Hamilton, The Development Factory, Toronto/Lindy Zucker, producers
Saatchi & Saatchi Canada, project design and development/ad agency
Tourette Syndrome Foundation of Canada, client

Launch Site

“A simple, yet very creative twist on using the Twitter platform to educate people about Tourette Syndrome.” —juror Dustin Callif

“Empathy is hard when you can’t understand another person’s experience, what it feels like to be them. This campaign finds an analogous way on Twitter to make people understand what it’s like to have Tourette.” —juror Ana Serrano

Overview: Tourette Syndrome is widely misunderstood. The Tourette Syndrome Foundation of Canada wanted people to comprehend the frustration, randomness and isolation of the condition by actually feeling the lack of control experienced by those living with the disorder. The Foundation worked with Saatchi & Saatchi Canada to launch Surrender Your Say, a campaign in which Twitter users relinquished control of their feed and allowed Tourette tics to be tweeted randomly under their name. It was controversial. It hadn’t been done before. And for a day, thousands felt what it was like to have Tourette Syndrome in front of millions of followers.

• The content of the uncontrolled tweets was created with one specific goal: to entice people to click through to the campaign website.
• Every tweet contained an odd, nonsensical tic inspired by real people with TS, a Surrender Your Say hashtag and a link to the website where people could surrender their own handle.
• Thirty-six hours after launch, almost 9,000 people surrendered their Twitter handles, generating 3,998,376 impressions through their followers, re-tweets and other interactions on Twitter. Ultimately, this created over 100 million impressions.

Comments by Saatchi & Saatchi Canada:
Are there any technological features you’d like to call attention to? “We created a series of ‘bots,’ each inspired by a real person with TS and the tics they experience on a regular basis. The bots were programmed using patterned scripts (for example, certain tics would repeat more often than others, which is common in people who actually live with TS), so in essence, every bot had a personality of its own.”

What was the response? “It was amazing. People had strong reactions to the experience—they were shocked, embarrassed, uncomfortable—and that was exactly what we were hoping for. It changed the way people thought about the disorder. Because invading someone’s Twitter feed is so personal, it was an advertising campaign that people really became involved in and remembered long after it was over. Participants took the time to tweet and blog about their experiences. We were really impressed with what people took away from it.”

How did this project compare with others you’ve worked on in the past? “This has been one of our favorite projects. We had the chance to improve lives by changing the way people think about Tourette Syndrome. We asked participants to step far out of their comfort zone; it was extremely intimate. A lot of ads work to entertain and delight people, and that wasn’t the case with Surrender Your Say. We wanted people to learn and think and feel uncomfortable. We were able to achieve all three, and that was incredibly rewarding.”


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