At first glance, Akili Interactive’s EndeavorRx may look like many other video games. Players are asked to navigate a series of magical worlds, overcoming obstacles along the way.
In fact, it’s something quite different: an FDA-cleared therapeutic ADHD treatment for children aged 8 to 12. The game, technically categorized as a medical device, delivers sensory stimuli and motor challenges, targeting areas of the brain that play a key role in attention function.
There is a purpose to the play, however. Success at the game requires focus and flexibility, managing multiple tasks simultaneously and filtering out distractions from the goal. In one study, 73% of children reported improvement in attention after one month of playing the game.
To familiarize parents and patients with this novel approach, Akili Interactive has evolved its recent “Made for the Mind You Love” campaign. It emphasizes how the game is intended to complement medications and other therapies.
This campaign’s creative brief called for an approach that expressed optimism and empowerment, but one that was also grounded in reality and felt authentic. The result: a 30-second spot showing a young mom and her vegetarian-dinosaur-obsessed son with ADHD, Dylan, spending time together at home. It concludes with Dylan playing EndeavorRx.
“We leaned into moms who are active in treatment decisions,” said Akili Interactive VP of marketing Blake Schiller, referencing the company’s panel of moms who serve as both caregivers and advocates. “These are the moms who stand in front of their child’s pediatrician or neurologist and steer treatment decisions, looking to give their kids a level playing field while also preserving what makes their child special.”
The desire to avoid the side effects of other treatments inspired the campaign’s moniker.
“Reaching these moms is not the difficult part. Breaking through to them is hard, because they consume a lot of content,” Schiller explained. “What we are doing is celebrating their relationships with their children. It resonates because it’s about something that really matters.”
Schiller added that experimentation is encouraged across functions at Akili Interactive, including within the marketing realm. “In this case, the lifestyle portrayal looked to be more powerful at generating the type of engagement we were looking for,” he said, noting that Akili’s videos and still imagery are exclusively populated by kids with ADHD and their mothers.
“The chemistry and quirkiness in the video is real and it came out in casting, including this kid’s obsession and expertise around paleontology.”
The campaign represents one component of a broader all-digital approach that distinguishes the company, not to mention EndeavorRx itself.
“In theory, people could go from experiencing our promotional system to getting actual dispensed therapy in a matter of moments,” Schiller noted. “It’s not happening that fast today, but that’s the ecosystem we have created and what we are optimizing for.”
As for what comes next, Schiller has an eye on TikTok, which he reports has a strong ADHD subculture with a large parent demographic. “They are there and they are engaging, to the surprise of some of us,” he said. “It’s one of those moments in my career where I feel old.”