Narcolepsy Network (NN) and the entire narcolepsy community have long worked to dispel myths and misunderstandings about narcolepsy. When Honda Motor Company released a TV commercial using narcolepsy as a punch line, the community quickly and effectively lobbied to have the ad pulled from the airways and the Internet. In addition, Honda was persuaded to make several PSAs about narcolepsy and air them on national TV.
NN is pleased that it could work with others in the narcolepsy community to seize the opportunity to increase awareness about narcolepsy with a major international corporation and among the general public. NN continues to work to fulfill its mission of supporting people with narcolepsy and increasing public awareness of narcolepsy.
How It Happened
It all began on a Saturday night last June when Narcolepsy Network Board of Trustees member Dr Mark Patterson received a message from a friend alerting him to the commercial. As a parent of a person with narcolepsy, Patterson was shocked at the commercial. He and his colleagues at Narcolepsy Network contacted Honda and took to social media to mobilize friends and supporters. By Sunday afternoon, Honda’s Facebook and Twitter pages were filled with messages asking that the ad be removed, and a change.org petition was gathering hundreds of signatures.
Patterson and NN’s executive director Eveline Honig had several conversations with Honda representatives, who pulled the ad and issued an apology. In addition, Patterson and Honig were able to persuade Honda to show its support for the narcolepsy community by creating and airing public service announcements about narcolepsy instead of the offensive commercial.
Over the next several months, Narcolepsy Network, Wake Up Narcolepsy, and Project Sleep worked with Honda and their creative agency to develop a series of PSAs that explain the realities of living with narcolepsy to those who may be unfamiliar with the disorder. The PSAs are currently airing nationally on cable TV networks including HGTV, E!, TNT, and Bravo.