The charity, called Ataxia UK, commissioned the campaign after a YouGov poll showed only nine per cent of adults knew about the disease. The poll also revealed that, of those who had heard of ataxia, a fifth mistakenly believed it was the name of an investment company.
The national press and outdoor campaign, which breaks today, features black-and-white images of real ataxia sufferers that have been distorted in a bid to represent how sufferers view the world. Rankin took the photos while TBWA\London added the distortion.
The images are accompanied by provocative headlines such as "We wouldn’t wish Ataxia on anyone. Except a famous person, perhaps." and "Ataxia. It’s like multiple sclerosis ganged up with Parkinson’s and played a dirty trick on Cerebral Palsy."
The work was written by Antonia Clayton and art directed by Pat Comer.
Sue Millman, Ataxia UK’s chief executive, said "Ataxia is one of many neurological conditions and while awareness of multiple sclerosis, motor neurone disease or Parkinson’s is high, degenerative conditions like ataxias, which have similar symptoms and affect people in a similar way, are not well known. With no famous faces affected by ataxia to fight our corner, we really are invisible."
"We hope this campaign will really bring attention to what it’s like living with this condition, and people will get behind us and raise funds so that we can continue our research to help cure or effectively treat the condition. Until we can achieve that goal, we aim to give the best care and support available."
Ataxia attacks the brain and affects sufferers’ coordination. It can also lead to blindness, heart problems and diabetes. At present, there is no medicine which specifically treats ataxia or its symptoms.