More than 99% of people have heard of autism, but very few actually understand it. What’s more, autistic people are often misrepresented and stereotyped in the media – or simply cut out altogether. An authentic representation is missing often due to inaccurate editing, non-autistic actors/actresses and storylines with misleading scenarios.
As part of Too Much Information – the campaign that has changed the way people think about autism – we launched Autism Uncut, a competition to celebrate the best of TV, film and media to give the public the full picture.
We wanted to use film and TV shed some much needed light on their world – uncensored and uncut – inspiring the name and identity that would drive all marketing.
Autism will never be understood without the right portrayal, similarly, a film doesn’t give the audience the full story if a line doesn’t make it to the final cut. So we decided to show how drastically a story can change when key parts are taken out – and created a flexible branding device that can be applied effectively across a range of mediums.
We created a brand and campaign that took away more information than it told. To show that when something’s missing, the whole picture changes.
To launch the competition our call to arms, sent out over social media and printed advertisements and urged amateur, student and professional filmmakers to create original, four-minute films to help portray autism and its effects. We took familiar quotes from famous films and subverted them to tell a different story. The result was confusing and prompted the viewer to get to the bottom of the obscured text. In an upbeat tone of voice, this highlighted our message and spread the word about the competition.
With a helping hand from D&AD New Blood the competition also featured on their national curriculum to drive up the numbers, and spread awareness of TMI at the same time.
Inundated with incredible work, the selection was made and we sent out invitations to the event that were seemingly without the whos, wheres, whats and whens. It was up to the recipient to reveal the important info themselves by scratching away the covering surface to reveal the details – again, symbolic of the campaign’s message.
Naturally, the awards attracted talented participants and judges alike. Asif Kapadia, Academy Award and four-time BAFTA award winning director, Gill Wilson head of features at Channel 4, and John Harris journalist for the Guardian and author were among the 20 professional panel members judging the submissions.
All the hard work culminated in the best picks being shown at the Autism Uncut awards ceremony on Thursday 6th April on the red carpets of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts.
The ceremony itself featured speeches from many familiar faces, including the NAS CEO Mark Lever. Public speaker, Dean Beadle and comedian, Ria Lina were our hosts for the evening. They are both autistic which lead to them giving an insightful, funny and authentic spin to the proceedings.
We didn’t waste the opportunity to really go to town on the ceremony branding to hammer home the point. With a few simple edits, the programme recast the judges as fridge-chuckers, Baywatch stars and Spice Girls members. And made the charity’s CEO tell a very different speech…
“Don’t Panic worked with such obvious passion for the cause, and the message we wanted this event to convey, to create an exciting and thought-provoking style for Autism Uncut. We were venturing into something very new by launching Autism Uncut, which was very much reflected in the arresting brand created around it.”
Jess Philips, Senior Marketing Officer at The National Autistic Society