Alzheimer’s ad on mum dying ‘again and again’ cleared despite receiving hundreds of complaints

A dementia ad which detailed how a woman affected by Alzheimer’s disease died “again, again and again” received 235 complaints by viewers.

The Alzheimer’s Society ads were broadcast on both TV and radio in March and April, but some viewers claimed they caused “unjustifiable distress” and were irresponsible.

The ad featured a man at his mother’s wake describing how dementia eventually made her forget even the basics, including his name.

Image: The ads have been cleared of causing ‘unjustifiable distress’. Pic: PA

“Mum first died on the 12th of May 2019 when she couldn’t work out how to prepare her legendary roast any more,” he said.

“The style icon of the Covington estate. Mum died as a fashionista the day she couldn’t get dressed into her colourful outfits.”

He continued: “She died as the queen of Christmas when she refused to have dinner with the family. She died again when she asked me, her son, what my name was.

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“She died as dad’s rock after 52 years of marriage the day she looked straight through him.

“On the 10th of March 2024, mum died a final time, surrounded by her family.”

The ad switched between scenes of the woman's past life. Pic: PA
Image: The ad switched between scenes of the woman’s past life. Pic: PA

A voice-over then said: “With dementia, you don’t just die once. You die again and again and again. Which is why at Alzheimer’s Society we’ll be with you again and again and again.”

Viewers complained that the ads were excessively distressing, offensive and irresponsible.

However, the ads have now been cleared by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) as they found that “any distress caused was justified by the ads’ messages”.

The Alzheimer’s Society said it was “conscious from the outset that a campaign about the realities of dementia would be sensitive and potentially challenging for some audiences” and it approached the campaign with due care.

The charity said the script was written by a person who had lost their father to dementia 18 months previously “for whom the long goodbye rang true”.

Ad clearance agency Clearcast said they understood the ads could be upsetting but did not believe they were irresponsible or exploitative.

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When approving the ads, they took into consideration that the Alzheimer’s Society was an authority on the issue, and provided support for people living with Alzheimer’s as well as investing in research into the disease.

The ASA said the ads, and particularly the references to death, could cause a significant emotional impact with a wider audience.

The ASA said: “We acknowledged that the ads, and particularly the references to dying ‘again and again and again’ were likely to cause potentially significant distress to some people with Alzheimer’s, particularly to those who had recently been diagnosed.

“However, we considered that the ads presented an accurate and sensitively delivered portrayal of the reality of the disease.”

It added: “Overall, we considered that any distress caused was justified by the ads’ messages.

“For the reasons set out above we concluded that the ads were not irresponsible, did not cause serious or widespread offence, and did not cause unjustifiable distress.”

Source : Sky News