The Children in These Ads About Fetal Alcohol Disorder Have Experienced It Firsthand

Colle McVoy's new work for Proof Alliance

A new set of testimonial PSAs about fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) features actual children who suffer the effects of them—from developmental delays to cognitive and physical disabilities. 

There are differing views on how much—if any—alcohol is safe for a mother to drink while pregnant. The new advertising for Proof Alliance, from Minneapolis agency Colle McVoy, says 1 in 20 children in the U.S. has FASD, and that the safest course is to abstain entirely. 

Three spots feature kids talking about common misconceptions around drinking during pregnancy—as well as their own experience having FASD. 

See the spots here: 

Proof: Some Think Drinking During Pregnancy is OK. It’s Not
Proof: Drinking During Pregnancy Causes FASD
Proof: One in 20 Kids Have This Preventable Brain Injury

Creative director Puja Shah, who oversaw the creative campaign at Colle McVoy, tells Muse it was critical to use real kids with FASD, not actors. 

"We wanted it to be very authentic, so we knew we didn't want to conduct model casting," Shah says. "We worked with Proof Alliance to identify children who were affected by FASD. We then worked to make sure we had a wide range of diversity, from age, gender, ethnic background, etc. This was very important to show that FASD affects all kids. It is not only found in one community or category." 

Shah says the kids were incredible on camera because they were simply telling their own honest stories. 

"They weren't acting. They were seeing their truth," she says. "For instance, when they read the tweets about mistruths, their reactions were better than if we had directed them. The shoot was at times very emotional with many tears because of how heartfelt the entire process was." 

The shoot was sometimes a challenge. 

"FASD is predominantly an invisible disease that you can't see on the surface," says Shah. "The effects of FASD often showed through when the young children tried to grasp onto the dialogue and sentences. At times it was more difficult to hold their attention and have them read the copy." 

A lot of the task of building a rapport with the kids fell to the director, Angie Bird of Chelsea Pictures. 

"Angie was amazing," Shah says. "She was able to have the children deliver dialogue in all ranges. From my experience in advertising for more than 15 years, I think they did better than any actor would have because they were so unaware. Kids who are generally brought in for shoots are aware of the camera, and there's always a sense of acting in it. These kids had a very raw emotion that came through the camera. They were just being themselves."

The campaign also includes out-of-home advertising as well as three new websites: DrinkingWhilePregnant.org, PregnancyAlcoholCalculator.org and FASDProof.org. 

The work also represents a rebrand for the organization. Proof Alliance was formerly known as the Minnesota Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. 

CREDITS

Client – Proof Alliance
Agencies – Colle McVoy, 10 Thousand Design, Exponent PR
Director – Angie Bird of Chelsea Pictures
Music – Marmoset
Production Company – Chelsea Pictures
Executive Producer – Patrick McGoldrick
Line Producer – Shanah Blevins

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Tim Nudd
Tim Nudd is editor in chief of the Clio Awards and the founding editor of Muse by Clio.

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