From Craig Stoltz, Director, Product Communications, Immunology, Centocor Ortho Biotech Inc.
Earlier this year, I received a very interesting voicemail message from someone I didn’t know, but it was a voice that I instantly recognized. It belonged to renowned Saturday Night Live actor and comedian, Jon Lovitz, who was calling with a proposition: help him raise awareness for a disease that he’d suffered with for nearly a decade – severe plaque psoriasis. Thankfully he had recently worked with his dermatologist to find a treatment that worked for him and he now had his psoriasis under control. Basically, Jon wanted to use his comedy to raise awareness about psoriasis, without making fun of having the disease.
This week, we are launching a disease awareness campaign with Jon, called Are You Serious?TM, following several months of telephone and in-person creative meetings, production shoots, editing sessions, and coast-to-coast trips between Philadelphia and Los Angeles. I was also fortunate to be a part of a few very serious meet-and-greets with Lovitz and his longtime friend, Hollywood director Jerry Zucker (the legendary director behind hit movies including AIRPLANE!, The Naked Gun series, and Ghost) who worked with us on the campaign’s public service announcements. (Full disclosure: not only weren’t the meetings serious, they were hysterical!) You can see the end result of all this by going to the campaign website: www.SeriousAboutPsoriasis.com.
The campaign is a collaborative educational effort between Centocor Ortho Biotech Inc., maker of two treatments for the management of moderate or severe psoriasis, and the National Psoriasis Foundation (NPF), starring Lovitz. It aims to raise awareness about this autoimmune condition and motivate patients to speak with a dermatologist about how to effectively manage their symptoms. That’s what Lovitz did less than a year ago, and he couldn’t be more passionate about sharing his positive experience with others to let them know they absolutely can take control of their disease.
At the cornerstone of the campaign is a national public service announcement (PSA), airing on television and radio stations across the country, which uses Lovitz’s unique comedic style to illustrate some of the everyday challenges faced by people with psoriasis. In addition to being a hilarious comedian and scriptwriter, I learned along the way that Jon is actually quite a talented lyricist, and to that end, the campaign includes a psoriasis parody video written and performed by Lovitz to Maroon 5’s famous hit, “This Love.” By visiting www.SeriousAboutPsoriasis.com, people can watch the PSA and song parody, as well as sign up to receive access to behind-the-scenes footage and blooper videos (which I’m slightly embarrassed to say I made a cameo appearance in).
Psoriasis affects approximately 7.5 million Americans, and according to the NPF, it is the most prevalent autoimmune disease in the United States. It manifests itself on the skin as red, scaly plaques that may itch or bleed. In a press release announcing the launch of the campaign, Lovitz says, “I decided to use my comedy to raise awareness about psoriasis, without making fun of having the disease. I hope that through hearing my story, people with psoriasis will feel inspired to talk with a dermatologist and get their symptoms under control.”
To further Jon’s cause of raising awareness of, and getting people serious about, psoriasis, Centocor Ortho Biotech Inc. will donate $1 to the National Psoriasis Foundation for the first 10,000 people who share the video with a family member or friend.
I hope you have a chance to check out the campaign’s website and laugh as much as I did – hopefully you will find it’s also educational and informative, too.