There for Them: Why AbbVie’s new campaign is far from shameful

I was cuddling my nine-month-old son on the couch when this commercial came across the TV. Before you continue reading, please click the link and watch.

Somber music played and as the one minute clip unfolded, I knew within seconds it was about inflammatory bowel disease…even though there were no words. The imagery, facial expressions and moments hit close to home. IMG_4947I was immediately at a loss for words. But in a good way. I’ve been those people in that commercial. I’ve witnessed family members look at me sympathetically as I excuse myself from the room. I’ve held my stomach and grimaced in pain, doing all I can not to miss a moment of a social gathering. I was recently at the movie theater with my husband, gazing with jealousy at people who could eat popcorn…willing myself not to buy any.

AbbVie is getting mixed reviews about their latest campaign. Some are blasting it on social media calling it “shameful”, “ridiculous”, “a guilt trip”, “disgusting”… the list goes on. To be quite honest, I’m shocked. As a mom who’s battled Crohn’s disease for almost 13 years, this is the first time I’ve seen a commercial about IBD and related to it 100 percent. This isn’t some ploy to try and make people feel guilty for their condition. It’s the reality of what life is like for IBD families. Unless you personally battle IBD or your family member does, you should be hesitant to spout off and share your opinion, as you can’t claim to know what goes on behind closed doors when the illness doesn’t need to be invisible anymore.

This commercial isn’t about making those with chronic illness feel poorly about themselves or guilty about their condition. Rather it’s bringing the truth to the forefront, for all to see. Every other big pharma ad out there shows some picturesque portrayal of someone running off a field, walking on a boardwalk or hiking up a mountain. Sure those with IBD can do those things, but that’s the power of IBD being an invisible illness. We can do those things, with a smile, even if and when we’re hurting inside.

IMG_4744I’ve been on Humira almost 10 years. I don’t need to be sold on the drug. But this campaign means the world to me. It represents what my parents, husband and son endure by my side. This disease impacts more than just the patient. It’s a family affair. When my son is old enough I want him to be empowered by my strength, but able to empathize with my struggles. Thank you, AbbVie for recognizing this and giving the world an inside look at the IBD patient and family experience. The commercial ends with “To be continued”… I can’t wait to see what’s next.


13 thoughts on “There for Them: Why AbbVie’s new campaign is far from shameful

  1. Jenni says:

    I couldn’t agree more!!! When I watched the clip I teared up immediately and cried! It’s exactly what my husband and three kids go through daily! I don’t think people understand the impact it has on our families! My kids spend a majority of the time talking with me in the bathroom or on my bed, if they don’t go where I am, they would never see me! It’s just normal life at my house to do all talking either in my room or bathroom. Ha! Thank you for sharing this email. As always I love hearing from other Crohn’s and UC warriors! We so need each other!


    • PJ Santos Eisenberg says:

      Wow, I had no idea. It just seemed very sad for the family. Thank you for spreading the light of understanding. Also, the company should be applauded for their bravery, in showing IBD in this way. Hopefully, we can all learn to be a bit more understand. After all we all have some “secret pain” to endure. Glad you are Better, your son is beautiful!


  2. Kenzie says:

    I’ve been keeping up with your posts lately and this one really hit home! You took the words right out of my mouth. My support system looks a bit different than most, but I resonated with this commercial 100%. The grimacing looks…the holding the stomach…the fidgeting around because MAYBE, just MAYBE this time that will help and you can avoid another trip to the bathroom…Thank you, Natalie, for putting words to what I could not.


  3. jimitee says:

    So the commercial is implying there is more you can do if you have this disease and does promote a guilt trip if you are not using their drug… That is the awful message. Of course disease creates dysfunctionality within a family. Is cancer or COPd or extreme heart disease any different? No… the family is always affected but to use this as a drug ad is really dispicable


    • Natalie hayden says:

      Let’s agree to disagree. I’ve been on Humira almost 10 years, it has afforded me a quality of life. Rather than being in the hospital constantly or on the couch in pain, the drug has enabled me to work full time, have a baby, etc. So you know what, there is more you can do with this disease if it’s well managed. You can’t compare IBD to other diseases. That’s not the point here.


  4. Paula Harold says:

    I agree with you! I stopped in my tracks when I saw the commercial and couldnt move. That was me, that was me on the TV. Everything I go thru, exactly how I feel. They actually accurately portrayed the emotion of this disease. I hate the commercials that show people looking for a bathroom because my symptoms arent like that. This commercial was me. I immediately went to look up the website, but its down. I dont know why anyone would take offense to this commercial. It was an accurate reflection of reality. I hope it isnt a smear campaign by the other drug manufacturers to stop people from trying a new medicine that can fix these things. I cant wait to ask my doctor about this new medicine!


    • Natalie hayden says:

      It’s really been a controversial and I’m really surprised. Anyone who has IBD has been those people in the commercial. It’s a one minute blip of what it’s like to be a parent and battle Crohn’s/UC. It doesn’t give me “mom guilt”…it makes me realize that there are so many others out there going through the same experiences and moments with their families. I’ve been on Humira almost 10 years, so I don’t need to be “sold” on the drug. It gives so many people quality of life. It’s not a cure, it’s not for everyone–but it’s an awesome option for those of us who don’t want to get infusions or leave the comfort of our homes to receive biologic medication.


  5. Kerri Bradley-Ronne says:

    I have a child with IBD, well controlled now for several years, but I immediately understood those ads. We missed many plays, concerts, graduations, etc. Because she was sitting in a bathroom stall and I was standing outside, providing sympathy and support for her pain and distress as we missed yet ANOTHER important life event. It took years to get a diagnosis, and more years to find a regimen to manage it. We sympathize with everyone out there who hasn’t yet found anything that works. If these ads raises awareness and get people to talk to their doctor about trying a different medicine that may work better, I’m all for them.


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