NYU nixes controversial awareness ads on child psych ills

Share this article:
Ads mimic ransom notes.
Ads mimic ransom notes.

Bowing to outraged patient advocates, NYU Child Study Center said it will halt its controversial print and outdoor ad campaign aimed at raising awareness of mental health problems in children.

The ads, produced pro-bono by BBDO, take the form of ransom notes from a range of psychiatric disorders including autism, attention defecit hyperactivity disorder, Asperger Syndrome, depression, bulimia and obsessive compuls. Copy opens with the words: “We have your son.” Patient groups said the ads, which appeared in regional publications and on billboards, kiosks and construction sites around New York, reinforced damaging stereotypes, wrongly suggesting that children with autism, Asperger's and other psychiatric disorders are helpless and incapable of functioning in society.

The center's director, Harold Koplewicz, M.D., said in a statement that while the ads got people's attention, they'd become a distraction from the issues they were meant to raise awareness of. “The campaign succeeded in getting people's attention and sparking dialogue, but much of the debate centered on the ads instead of the issues,” said Koplewicz. “Though we meant well, we've come to realize that we unintentionally hurt and offended some people.” He invited critics to contribute their ideas to the dialogue and to the future of the campaign at a virtual “town hall” meeting to be held early in the new year on the campaign's website, AboutOurKids.com.

The ads had originally been slated to run through March. A spokesperson for the center said it was “ending this phase of the campaign and putting some thought into the next phase.” 

Share this article:

Email Newsletters

More in News

BMS Q2 sales slip, Eliquis, Yervoy soar

BMS Q2 sales slip, Eliquis, Yervoy soar

The company attributed part of the Eliquis boost to the BMS-Pfizer DTC and education efforts.

Gilead, Merck HCV marketing battle may be on horizon

Gilead, Merck HCV marketing battle may be on ...

Disclosed in its earnings report yesterday, Gilead may have a card up its sleeve to counter Merck's experimental hep. C combo regimen.

Sales of Biogen MS pill pick up overseas

Sales of Biogen MS pill pick up overseas

Biogen Idec is seeing strong sales for blockbuster MS drug Tecfidera, especially overseas where it's beginning to catch fire this summer.