The Dementia Friends activity launches tonight (7 May) with a 60-second DLKWLowe created ad across 40 channels. It features celebrities singing the McCartney-penned The Beatles track ‘With a Little Help From My Friends’ with dementia sufferer Gina.
The campaign aims to get 1 million people to sign up to become a “Dementia Friend” via www.dementiafriends.org.uk and receive tips to help people with dementia. The site also details local sessions providing information on the condition.
A series of films will run online on social media, YouTube and on partner charity The Alzheimer’s Society’s site. The clips attempt to explain what goes on in the mind of dementia sufferers. Television and online activity will be supported by an outdoor campaign featuring dementia sufferers including Gina, who will explain her own experience of the disease.
Public Health England marketing director Sheila Mitchell says studies show that there is a lack of understanding of dementia, which leads sufferers and friends and family of sufferers to avoid tackling the subject. It is hoped becoming a ‘dementia friend’ will increase levels of understanding, she adds.
Mitchell describes the celebrity-filled campaign as “Live Aid for the 21st century” because of the volume of celebrities involved. Ray Winstone, Amanda Holden and Terry Pratchett also appear.
“This is a coming together of popular culture to say this is an important issue,” she says.
‘With a Little Help From My Friends’ will be available for free via iTunes. PHE is in discussions with iTunes because chart rules prohibit free singles appearing in the top 40.
Elsewhere, partners including M&S, Easyjet and Starbucks will run training courses for staff to help them deal with customers with dementia better.
The campaign is the latest stage in meeting Prime Minister David Cameron’s 2012 ‘challenge on dementia’. Initiatives aimed at delivering improvements in care and research have already launched.