Ad industry unites to support Andy McDowell’s struggle with Parkinson’s

In 2009, at the age of 43, well-regarded suit and strategist Andy McDowell was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease and, over the last two years, his condition has deteriorated substantially, making it difficult for him to continue working.      

“Andy is finding it more and more difficult to drive, to walk a reasonable distance or to stand for any length of time,” says Trevor Moodie, a McDowell’s business partner at The Department Of Marketing, and friend of 15 years. “He’s concerned he can no longer provide for his family, which is causing him major worry and stress.”

As an industry stalwart, who launched The Department of Marketing in 2008, previously worked at FCB and Ogilvy & Mather, and also owned Nebula Marketing, McDowell has left an indelible mark on the lives of many in the Kiwi advertising space. And for this reason, a collection of advertising agencies have grouped together to raise funds to support him.

“Andy is so well-regarded within the industry that a group of us have decided to organise a special event to help him, his wife Kate and his gorgeous girls Lily and Pearl at this tough time,” says Moodie. “In particular, he wishes to leave a legacy so Pearl and Lily have the opportunity for tertiary education in years to come. The fund will also help support Andy’s ongoing treatment and enhance his quality of life.”

The Department of Marketing, Federation, Big Communications, the Marketing Association, CAANZ, Method Studios, .99/JustOne, RAPP, Rainger & Rolfe, NZ Post and Lassoo Media & PR have all thrown their weight behind the initiative by providing pro bono support.

But rather than simply appealing for funds, these agencies have lent their creativity to a good cause to develop a campaign that aims to cut through the clutter and reach those in the industry. 

The innovative fundraising campaign is in the style of a new agency launch and includes a dedicated website, recruitment ads, direct mail and public relations.

All aspects of the campaign have been crafted to resemble the launch of a new agency, and this was clearly evident in the release sent to media outlets, which said: A hot new agency has just launched in Auckland – and unusually it has just one client Called McDowell & Parkinson’s, the agency’s aim is very clear-cut – to raise money for much-loved and highly-regarded suit and strategist, Andy McDowell.”

The campaign has been developed to draw attention to a fundraising event that will take place on 18 November at La Zeppa in Auckland’s Freeman’s Bay at 6.30pm. Tickets cost $60 and are available at the campaign website.

Over the course of the event, various items will be auctioned on the night, including  accommodation at some of the North Island’s best holiday spots, luxurious hotel packages, high-end sports cars for the weekend, a fully catered day on the high seas and a round of golf for four at Auckland’s top-ranked course.

When he first received his diagnosis, McDowell wrote a poem about it for his daughters. Called Smaller, it was reworked into a short film, which won the Grand Prize and the People’s Choice Awards at the World Parkinson Congress in Canada last year.        

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