Unfairly if unsurprisingly, the immunocompromised community has found itself reduced to an asterisk during the pandemic. It’s an experience that actor Emily Gordon described at the launch of AstraZeneca’s Up the Antibodies campaign on Wednesday afternoon.
Gordon, who lives with adult-onset Still’s disease, noted the challenges that have come with managing a chronic condition in the era of COVID. She said that as health authorities recommended vaccines for most of the population, there would often be multiple preconditions for immunocompromised individuals. But what the asterisks indicated — that a vaccine might only be recommended in certain situations, for instance — was often mysterious and underexplained.
Up the Antibodies, then, is designed to providing resources and updated recommendations for individuals with the immunocompromised asterisk. AstraZeneca markets a long-acting monoclonal antibody.
The campaign’s star power isn’t limited to Gordon. Her husband, actor and producer Kumail Nanjiani, is on board, as is screen legend Jeff Bridges.
Bridges, a cancer survivor, had a fierce battle with COVID and decided to join AstraZeneca’s efforts to reach immunocompromised people via a short film and a behind-the-scenes video discussing his health scare. The film, created in concert with director Scott Cooper and music legend T Bone Burnett, who worked with Bridges on Crazy Heart, presents the actor walking through a Rocky Mountain setting and reflecting on his desire to once again live life to the fullest.
AstraZeneca head of U.S. corporate affairs, respiratory and immunology, vaccines and immune therapies Blake McEvoy said the campaign is long overdue.
“We’re two and a half years into COVID,” he explained. “We knew that we needed something really bold and really disruptive to shake up COVID fatigue, quite frankly, and we needed a campaign that would resonate with everyone because the immunocompromised community is very diverse.”
McEvoy believes Bridges is the ideal messenger.
“Jeff’s story is so powerful, and we needed someone who both would feel comfortable doing something like this on a broad level and who would be recognizable on a national level,” McEvoy said. “But most importantly, the story had to move heart and minds of the community and represent a very broad base of individuals, even if they don’t have his specific immunocompromised condition.”
In addition to a broad cross-channel rollout, the AstraZeneca and Edelman team will expand the campaign to include The New York Times and WebMD, trusted sources among an audience that is typically very savvy about health matters. A doctor discussion guide for immunocompromised patients has been created and a Spanish-language website will go live later this year.
“I hope that people take away that they have a sense of belonging and that they have a community here that has their back and will support them,” McEvoy said. “We recognize that for people who have missed out on so much that it’s not just the big things, but also the very little things and simple things. It’s possible to have more of those little things. That can mean everything to them.”