Insights in health & wellness branding


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Making Lemonade During the Pandemic

6 October 2020   |   Michelle Schneir

Wonder what it’s like to make a TV commercial during a pandemic? Check out this MM+M article, which looks at some of the challenges Sunovion and AT overcame to create the commercial for “Real Expressions,” the just-launched campaign for Latuda. It was inspired by real stories of people living with bipolar depression.

We were already casting for the commercial when COVID-19 struck. Faced with unimaginable obstacles, we quickly began exploring alternative ways forward that would keep us true to our original concept while prioritizing the safety and health of everyone involved in the project.

Our solution, arrived at after researching several possible approaches, was to establish “quarantine pods,” each made up of a DP and the people within his or her quarantine bubble, in many cases their friends and/or family. Guided by our director, the pods provided the film crew and the acting talent that produced the raw footage for the spot.

The result? A first-rate commercial that connects with viewers in a viscerally genuine way. Our use of real people filmed in their real homes, backyards and communities captures an authenticity and emotional connection that align perfectly with the spirit of the campaign.

Many people contributed to the success of the “Real Expressions” commercial, none more than Michelle Gilson, director of strategic brand marketing at Sunovion. She was involved in every aspect of the project, gave clear direction and quick, thoughtful feedback, and never lost faith that, together, we would find a good way forward. She’s a dream client.

We also owe special thanks to the production company Florence, which assembled a talented team led by our amazingly resourceful director, Cameron Dutra, and executive producer Jerad Anderson and line producer Diane Leuci.

The commercial wouldn’t exist without the members of our 17 quarantine pods, and we thank them all for their contributions. We also thank the artists who created the original artworks in the commercial, each inspired by a real story of a person living with bipolar depression.

Finally, a shoutout to the AT staff who contributed to the success of the campaign. Several more played a role, from proofreaders to department heads, but these are the core people who pushed the campaign forward on a day-to-day basis. I feel immensely proud to be part of such a smart, creative, determined team.

Creative: Jody Van Swearingen, Rachel Lomasz, Kevin Kustra
Production: Melissa Taylor, Mike Leary, Jess Sokolowski, Joe Bolokowicz
Account Management: Michelle Schneir, Katarina Gelke
Project Management: Drew Oxendine-Burns, Sami Middleton, Jasmin Garcia, Kennedy Krause, Christy Agee
Studio: Erik Thornburg
Integrated Strategy: Yael Vizman, Lisa Chengary, Inbal Pawlowski, Erica Rivera
Business Affairs: Kathy Kraft

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About the Author

Michelle Schneir, senior account director, joined AbelsonTaylor in 2014 and has 10 years of healthcare advertising experience. She has expertise in a broad range of therapeutic categories, including CNS, aesthetic/cosmetic, dermatology, medical devices, and rheumatology. During the pandemic, she has been honing her Zoom skills.