February 26, 2021

Advertising: Billie Jean King Raises Arthritis Awareness

The new campaign — which was developed with the Advertising Council and created by the New York office of YR Advertising — follows humorous ads introduced last year that featured people of different ages, races and shapes doing a type of break-dancing. The spot advised, “Moving is the best medicine.”

Most of the new ads show middle-age men and women participating in sports like swimming, biking, boxing and walking, activities the Arthritis Foundation said could help relieve arthritis pain and sometimes even delay the onset of symptoms. The copy says, “In the fight against arthritis, you need a weapon,” and asks, “What’s yours?”


In addition, some ads feature Billie Jean King, the 12-time Grand Slam singles winner and co-founder of World Team Tennis. Ms. King, who is 67, has had osteoarthritis since she was in her 20s, and had both knees replaced last year. Advertising featuring her — created with the cooperation of the United States Tennis Association — as well as the rest of the campaign will be announced at Arthur Ashe Stadium Wednesday morning, before U.S. Open play begins.

Peggy Conlon, president of the Ad Council, said the Arthritis Foundation’s 2010 advertising was “lighthearted. The first campaign helped us raise awareness for this issue. For the second year, we wanted to be more empowering and more action-oriented.”

According to Dr. Patience H. White, vice president for public health for the Arthritis Foundation, arthritis is the leading cause of disability in the United States, affecting 50 million Americans, or one in five adults; that number could jump to 67 million by 2030. Osteoarthritis — a degenerative joint disease characterized by a breakdown of joint cartilage from obesity, past joint injury and age — is the most common form of arthritis, and a type whose pain can be managed by exercise.

Dr. White said the foundation wanted to be “more serious about arthritis” with its new advertising. The 2010 concept was “fun and caught people’s attention, but now we want people to refuse to accept pain and the limitations of arthritis on their life. We want it to be more urgent and hard-hitting, to aim it at baby boomers 55 and older, to have them take action today to prevent the progression of arthritis.”

Research conducted last November among adults age 40 and older by Harris Interactive for the Ad Council found that only 16 percent of those with arthritis were very confident they could manage their pain. The research also found that while 58 percent believed taking medication is the most effective way to relieve arthritis pain, only 45 percent thought regular exercise was an effective way to reduce this pain.

The voiceover on new television commercials — with middle-age adults doing sports — says, “The pain will not control us. It will never break us, define us, or keep us still. Because arthritis can’t beat us, if we beat it first.”

Radio, print and banner advertising delivers similar messages. All advertising carries the tagline, “What’s your weapon? Visit FightArthritisPain.org.”

Television ads featuring Ms. King depict her playing tennis, with arthritis as her opponent. In one, Ms. King says, “Tennis is a weapon for me with arthritis. There’s nothing like it for me to hit a ball, run to the ball. Any time, any court, I’m ready, let’s go.”

Cliff Skeete, a creative director in the New York office of YR Advertising, part of the Young Rubicam Brands division of WPP, who oversees the Arthritis Foundation’s campaign, said the latest ads deliberately showed “real people, not all physically fit, not all Jack LaLanne types. They’re shaped more like an everyday person who can inspire the people at home watching.”

Similarly, Ms. King, a member of the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition, said, “I’m a little chubby, I think people are going to relate. I’m not just somebody who won a championship. I’ve overcome arthritis, I deal with it.”

Print, television and online advertising featuring Ms. King will appear during the U.S. Open, on screens at stadiums, throughout the grounds, and in collateral material; the U.S.T.A. also will feature content about the campaign and advertising on its Web site and in social media. In addition, the King advertising will run on U.S. Open broadcasts on ESPN2 and the Tennis Channel.

The execution of the campaign was questioned by some marketing and advertising experts, although they praised its intent.

Rick Burton, a professor of sports management at Syracuse University, said while Ms. King’s participation in the campaign is notable, “I don’t know if she fits it. I don’t take her personality to be militaristic. There seems to be a disconnect between the engagement of Billie Jean and advertising using generic weekend warriors.”

Yoram Wind, a professor of marketing at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, said the campaign is “too rational. Most effective ads are emotional. They’re relying on one celebrity, Billie Jean King.”


Adam Alter, an assistant professor of marketing at New York University’s Stern School of Business, said the campaign’s use of “weapon as a metaphor seemed difficult to grasp.”

However, Dorothy Dunlop, an associate professor of medicine at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University and an author of a recent study on physical activity and osteoarthritis, commended the new campaign for focusing on “everyday activity.”

Ms. Dunlop, who has received financing for research from the Arthritis Foundation and reviews its research proposals, said the “ads will help people not think of this as an exercise regimen, but part of their daily experience.”

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=0a16dfceb3409205724d52f7b31bf313

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