Category G04. Social Behaviour & Cultural Insight
Name Company Position
Yaël Rouach Publicis Account Director
Kwint De Meyer Publicis Creative Director
Willem De Wachter Publicis Creative Director
Maarten De Maayer Publicis Copywriter
Daniel Vanden Broucke Publicis Art Director
Lode Vochten Digitas Lbi Digital Creative Director
Loes Hendryckx Publicis Strategic planner
Philippe Dorval Publicis Copywriter FR

Why is this work relevant for Direct?

The National Alzheimer Liga in Belgium wanted to help family members of Alzheimer patient’s help cope with all aspects of the disease. When family members were too ashamed to call about the embarrassing situations that were now part of their lives they decided to collaborate with Martine, a childhood hero of Belgian adults to guide their families to talk about Alzheimer at home first. The new, interactive, Martine book directed families towards the telephone line after reading. On launch day the conversation started through national press and families struck by Alzheimer massively ordered the limited Martine edition.


Alzheimer’s is a degenerative brain disease. Typical symptoms include memory loss, and that’s what most people know about the disease. Alzheimer’s, however, affects more than memory, changing a person’s identity and behaviour. In Belgium, 70% of patients are cared for by their families. The Belgian Alzheimer League has a helpline that helps those affected by Alzheimer’s, focusing on helping family members cope with the disease by getting them to talk about their struggles. The Alzheimer League is a non-profit organisation with limited resources: we couldn’t allow for the campaign to be a victim of its own success.

Describe the creative idea (30% of vote)

To break the taboo of talking about Alzheimer’s disease with young children, we created a children’s book starring Martine, a famous little girl that most Belgian adults grew up with. Martine and her confused grandpa is a special edition of Martine that helps families cope with Alzheimer’s and helps start a conversation about the disease, removing the stigma for good. We chose children’s stories as an entry point into the family. To help them talk about the disease with the help of Martine, who taught their parents valuable life lessons when they were kids. To make sure the message hit home, the book is based on true stories about Alzheimer’s patients and written with child psychologists and Alzheimer’s experts.

Describe the strategy (20% of vote)

Simply asking people to call the helpline would result in a lot of missed connections. By listening to the telephone operators, we discovered many stories of how family members dealing with Alzheimer’s found it difficult to openly talk about the behavioural changes and “embarrassing” stories that were now part of their lives. The strategy was to remove the stigma surrounding Alzheimer’s by opening up the conversation, no longer ignoring it, and normalizing these behavioural changes. Patients often have grandchildren. We needed to get people to talk about something that was surprisingly difficult to talk about

Describe the execution (20% of vote)

Martine and her confused grandpa is based on true stories about Alzheimer’s patients and was written in close collaboration with child psychologists and Alzheimer’s experts. To stay true to the style of the original Martine books by the Belgian illustrator Marcel Marlier, a new story was pieced together using only original drawings. On September 21st, World Alzheimer Day, Martine and her confused grandpa was launched and immediately picked up by the press. It got the nation talking on social media, national television, radio, in newspapers and magazines. We reached 5.3 million impressions (half the country) with 0 paid media. The books were also distributed to schools, libraries, doctor’s offices and sold online. Over 5000 books were sold the first day.

List the results (30% of vote)

When the book was released, it received wide coverage on national television, radio shows and in all major Belgian newspapers. Without spending a single euro, we reached half of the country (5.3M media impressions) with a touching story about a famous little girl who is confronted with the disease. Martine and her confused grandpa started a conversation in countless Belgian homes about what Alzheimer’s disease is really like, removing the stigma surrounding it. Families everywhere are now better equipped to cope with Alzheimer’s. 5184 books were sold the first day. Volunteers for the helpline of the National Alzheimer League reported back on how the conversation is changing, with people feeling relieved instead of ashamed. Martine helped a generation through many of life’s adventures. Martine and her confused grandpa will help the coming generations to cope with Alzheimer’s, by starting a conversation about the disease.

Please tell us about the social behaviour and / or cultural insights that inspired your campaign

Martine children books have helped a generation understand otherwise difficult to talk about topics while growing up. Now grown up there are still topics that are difficult to talk about. We discovered one topic was Alzheimer. Alzheimer is much more than just being forgetful and can bring along awkward situations that have become stigmatized. Families coping with Alzheimer feel ashamed and guilty and find it difficult to talk about what is going on with their loved ones. We found where adults ignored the conversation, children were still asking questions about their grandparents. Now the Martine books could once again become a tool to help two generations better understand, talk about and cope with Alzheimers disease.