How Autism Awareness Brings Out the Best in Big Brands

Simon Mainwaring / Advertising / 5 years ago

Autism Awareness Collaboration AdOne of the most powerful forces reshaping the cultural, marketing, and technology landscape is collaboration. Whether it’s citizens uniting around world to demand an end to political injustices, consumers rallying around causes they care about to demand greater social responsibility from brands, or people connecting their ideas to make new products possible through crowdsourcing platforms, the connective tissue facilitated by the web, social media, and smart phones is allowing us to co-author our future.

At the heart of all these trends is a timeless truth: It’s the emotional connection between people that motivates them to take action. No amount of technology will get people to do things unless they care about the result. It’s this alignment of shared values and a common purpose that gives meaning to social technologies and their promise for remaking our world.

This week sees the launch of a groundbreaking expression of the power of collaboration to shine a light on Autism Awareness month. In this new PSA, Band-Aid, Campbell’s Soup and AT&T each produce 15-second product ads that subtly combine into one PSA about the importance of early diagnosis of autism. In each ad we see the same family from the Autism Speaks spot engaged in different commonplace scenes as the years pass. The ads appear like standalone product commercials for large brands and that’s the point. Early diagnosis can lead to a normal family life, much like the kind seen in ordinary commercials for big brands, but it requires the early detection of signs.

Not only is this a fresh and creative approach to a PSA, but also it leverages the familiarity, reach, and power of household brands to dramatically scale awareness of its message. In so doing, the brands also raised awareness of their individual core values, reinforcing consumer goodwill and loyalty. That’s why it’s a powerful example of self-interest, shared values, and social impact combined to the benefit of all parties.

For more information of the early detection of autism click here.


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  1. Avatar William Wallace says:

    Simon, thanks for sharing this. It is just what we need in the world today. We need to get every brand to change their core values and then to be authentic in their support of these causes to create the network required to really touch the hearts of the audience, but not only the audience, the employees as well. This will impact on experience and “pay forward” until it returns to your bottom line.

    But how do we get large Telco corporations to move in this direction?

    1. Avatar Simon Mainwaring says:

      Thanks so much William and I totally agree. As for Telcos I think two things have to happen. 1. Consumer have to demand greater responsibility from brands around issues like con flights minerals and then reward them for doing so. And 2. they need to embrace a leadership mentality that involves risk tolerance and an enlightened commitment to doing well by doing good. I believe the market is trending this way and we will see greater commitments in this direction as a market driver rather than mere good intentions. Thanks, William.

      1. Avatar William Wallace says:

        Thank you Simon. I appreciate the feedback.
        By the way, I hope you don’t mind, I prepared a pic with a quote from your interview with Brian Solis that really touched me, and added it to an existing photo of you. I then posted it on my Blog site at to share with my community. Thanks again for the reesponse and feedback on the Telcos.

        1. Avatar Simon Mainwaring says:

          Thanks so much William. of course that’s ok. And I saw the quote/pic. Very kind of you. I hope all is well. Simon

  2. Avatar Tobias Ain says:

    Simon, thank you! As a speaker and father of an autistic son in Germany I m very happpy about every mentioning the issiue of autism in public …

    1. Avatar Simon Mainwaring says:

      Pleasure Tobias and it’s so great to see big brands supporting this important work. Hope you and your son are great.

  3. Avatar Ed Donegan says:

    Autism can be solved by eliminating baby vaccines, Thank the US Govt for this and many other child related problems. BTW they did zero testing of DTP vaccine before issuing it.