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.