Broadcasting legend Philip Sherry returns to deliver ‘news that can save your sight’

Macular degeneration is a disorder that is said to affect as many as one in seven Kiwis over the age 50. And while treatable when caught early enough, most people don’t even know what it is—let alone what symptoms to look out for.

So, in an effort to demystify the condition and make Kiwis more aware what can be done to counter it, Macular Degeneration New Zealand (MDNZ)—a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to the cause—has launched a new campaign conceptualised by Logan Brooke Communications.

“The condition still has very low awareness, but the stats are very alarming, says MDNZ general manager Phillippa Pitcher. “[The] stats are up there with heart disease and bowel cancer and it’s the leading form of blindness in New Zealand. So our campaign had to be persuasive in nature. We had to lead with something so drastic that the audience had no choice but to take action.”

The gravity of these statistics became the anchor of the campaign, and the phrase ‘one in seven people over 50 will get macular degeneration’ has consequently been employed on both online and outdoor creative executions.

This hard-hitting statement has been coupled with the Amsler grid, a tool used to determine whether or not the viewer is suffering from the disorder. 


“We made the test the hero as it added an interactive element to the campaign,” says Pitcher. “You probably couldn’t do the whole test from the back of the bus, but when you clicked through [on the website], the instructions were right there and the grid was featured on the homepage.”

Given that the condition most often affects those who are older than 50, MDNZ delved into the history of Kiwi television to find a brand ambassador that would resonate with the target market.

“We brought broadcasting legend Philip Sherry out of retirement and back into the newsroom one more time to deliver this vital piece of news,” says Pitcher.

The retired broadcaster was drawn to this cause on a personal level due to his mother suffering from the condition—and this meant that it didn’t take much to convince him to be involved in the project.

“He has been an MDNZ Ambassador for several years,” says Pitcher. “He now lives in Papamoa, where he’s a local councillor, but he took time out of his schedule to drive to the studio in Tauranga and spend a few hours shooting the spot.”

The initial filming was done pro-bono by Yours Truly Studios, and the final editing was done in-house at Logan Brooke in Auckland.

The short clip, shot in the theme of a vintage news broadcast, has been embedded on the MDNZ website, which was designed by Logan Brooke and developed by SMP. The site largely serves as an information centre, featuring endorsements from other media personalities, additional information and personal stories from sufferers.

In addition to featuring on the website, the campaign creative is also on display on billboards, in shopping malls and at the airport. But this didn’t come about because MDNZ is rolling in donation dough.

“We were very low on funds for the campaign, so Logan Brooke successfully campaigned a number of media owners such as bus back, billboard and digital airport and shopping mall signage companies, on our behalf,” says Pitcher.

“Almost everyone gave away their media for free—literally hundreds of thousands of dollars worth. So we’d like to give our sincere thanks to Ooh Media for the Airport and Shopping mall digital display advertising, iSite for the awesome bus backs and APN for the Wellington and Christchurch billboards. They gave us the ‘space’ and exposure to let the campaign get out there to the masses.”

And while the not-for-profit organisation is still relatively small, Pitcher says that she hopes to attract a major corporate sponsor in the near future.

“People simply don’t realise just how serious and widespread MD is and, although this campaign has done an amazing job in promoting awareness, now is the perfect time for a big name to lend their support to this vital charity. The more eyes we reach with our message, the more we can save. Our organisation is small, but our desired reach is massive.”

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