Canadian Down Syndrome Society
Anything But Sorry
The birth of a baby should be one of the happiest moments of a new parent’s life. But for parents of a baby with Down syndrome, the love they feel for their child is overshadowed by the negative reactions of those around them. Rather than getting the typical congratulations, the first words they often hear are “I’m sorry.” A piercingly painful comment that implies their child is something to apologize for rather than celebrate.
The objective for the Canadian Down Syndrome Society (CDSS) was to get people to change how they react to the birth of a baby with Down syndrome - to change their response from pity to celebration. And with a limited media budget and wide target audience, the org needed to make its message reach as many people as possible.
FCD and CDSS had two jobs to do: get noticed and change behaviour.
To provoke consideration of what you should and shouldn’t say to new parents, the team had to shift the tone away from how not-for-profit groups typically talk about Down syndrome – with inspirational and heartfelt messages – that would likely get ignored.
Instead, CDSS planned to use a completely unexpected tone and humour to disrupt the audience. When it came to changing behaviour, they had one very specific goal, to stop people from saying sorry. That meant dramatizing just how bad the word “sorry” really is. This became the basis of the insight: for new parents, the only bad word you could say is sorry.
Creatively, the team brought the insight to life with the idea that you can say just about anything you want to new parents of a child with Down syndrome. Anything but sorry.
“Anything But Sorry” is a digital/social campaign revolving around one hero piece of content called “The S Word”. The video begins with a warning: the following contains inappropriate language. But the bad word isn’t the one you think. They then asked the question, “What do you say to parents who just had a child with Down syndrome?”
The answers were provided by people with Down syndrome, who offer their unfiltered suggestions using every inappropriate phrase they know except "Sorry." Suggestions ranging from “congratu-f******-lations!” to “there goes your sex life.” It ends with a reminder that every baby deserves to be celebrated.
The video was seeded with a promoted and an organic post on Facebook. It then drove people to a microsite Anythingbutsorry.com, where they were encouraged to share cheeky e-cards to help welcome the 9,363 babies born with Down syndrome in North America this year.
“The S Word” video has driven mass awareness with minimal budget. More than 349,000 video views on YouTube and Facebook in 15 days, based on $1,200 in media. The video tracked 84,570 organic video views on Facebook without media investment, 214,675 organic reach on Facebook and 1.29 million of unpaid media impressions from 45 pieces of PR coverage – exceeding 2016’s Down Syndrome Answers.
Campaign: Anything But Sorry
Brand: Canadian Down Syndrome Society
Chair, Board of Directors: Laura LaChance
Vice-Chair, Board of Directors: Ed Casagrande
Member, Board of Directors: Ben Tarr
Member, Board of Directors: Stewart Moffatt
National Executive Director: Kirk Crowther
Communications Manager: Kaitlyn Pecson
Resource Coordinator: Carlee Reardon
Creative Agency: FCB Canada
CCO: Nancy Crimi-Lamanna, Jeff Hilts
Sr. Copywriter: Marty Hoefkes
Sr. AD: Michael Morelli
ADs: Cody Sabatine, Gira Moin
Copywriter: Joseph Vernuccio
Illustrators: Sasha Ortega, Elma Karabegovic, Sarah
Cleaver, Amanda Disanto, Sally Fung, Logan Franklin
CEO: Tyler Turnbull
VP, Managing Director: Tracy Little, Ricky Jacobs
Group Account Director: Ravi Singh
Account Executive: Olivia Selbie
Director of Integrated Production: Stef Fabich
Broadcast Producer: Christine Michalejko
Chief Strategy Officer: Shelley Brown
Sr Strategic Planner: Eryn LeMesurier
Strategist: Shelagh Hartford
UX Lead: Kristy Pleckaitis
Project Manager: Ashley Whitaker
Director of Technology: Madara Ranawake