A few weeks ago I wrote a letter to Lifeline about one of their Australian ads (you can read it here). They have now responded.
The email reads:
“Thank you for providing your feedback about the Lifeline HOPE billboards. I am so sorry that they have made you feel the way they do, this is certainly not our intention. We had aimed to provide a strong message of hope, which is the undercurrent of all our communication campaigns. To date, I have received plenty of positive feedback about this campaign, your feedback is the first negative, but it has weighed on me heavily. Thank you for taking the time.
The intention behind the poster was that people would see the ad and be encouraged to hold on with HOPE for whatever the reason may be that they need it. In doing so, I had hoped to encourage a more compassionate Australia. For those in chronic pain, I had hoped to impart hope in the continuing advancement in scientific discovery and the dedicated medical teams who are working in the field. The furthest thing from my intention is to cause anyone harm or to experience isolation.
Ella, this ad placement has been provided pro bono, so I am unable to change where it is placed or how often. I can give you the undertaking though that the next iteration of posters I am given the opportunity to post I will ensure there is a different hopeful message.
I am sorry for the distress this has caused you, I hope my response will give you some solace.
Ina is the National Manager of Communications and Public Affairs for Lifeline.
Whilst I still think the ad is deeply insensitive and demonstrates a lack of thought, and I don’t buy the “continuing advancement in scientific discovery” thing (anyone with a chronic illness knows that waiting for medical advances is about as hopeful as waiting for a tsunami in the Gobi Desert), I am gratified to have received a reply. I also very much appreciate the apology. I do hope that they bear the message in mind and give thought to those of us with chronic pain in future ad campaigns.
I strongly encourage anyone with the spoons to call out ableism or exclusion when they see it. People without intimate experience of disability or chronic pain don’t even think to double check on whether their language or actions are inclusive – goodness knows I rarely did prior to actually having endometriosis and working to educate myself. Every time we point it out is hopefully a time the other person goes away to think about it and takes the time to educate themselves and change their behaviour in future, and hopefully become an advocate for us as well.
Keep on keeping on, endo warriors.