I see a lot of marketing materials from various diabetes organizations, publications, and websites. The messages are varied, to say the very least. They’re all are asking for your support, most often financially, to either raise awareness of diabetes or march towards a cure. That much is definite.
The variances are to be expected, though. This disease doesn’t follow many rules.
The curious thing to me, after having seen hundreds of these materials, is how different companies chose to portray diabetes. Some companies show the 53 year old man sitting next to a dialysis machine. Others show a small child, running in a playground, smiling despite their diagnosis. A crying child being injected in the arm with a syringe, clutching their teddy bear? A smiling, healthy-looking person testing their blood sugar? Or a sullen, sad person taking their medications as a tear of hopelessness runs down their face?
Mixed messages ranging from “I can do anything!” to “I can’t do a damn thing.” Ah, the many faces of diabetes.
I can understand the “pity ploy,” because if you show the face of a small, hopeful child with their whole life of promise ahead of them, it’s a bit easier to ask for money. “How can you sit there and not help the children,” sort of endeavor. From what I’ve seen, people don’t feel as pressed to donate towards a cause that shows images of people living healthy lives with diabetes. It’s the proverbial pain and suffering that draws people in and tugs at their wallet.
It’s just a strange thought that portraying myself – ourselves- as healthy people may actually keep people from supporting our cause. “She doesn’t need our help. See, she’s just fine with her insulin pump and exercise regimen and doctors. She’s fine.”
What these marketing documents can’t convey is the constant thread of “make sure you” that runs through my mind.
Make sure you bring your meter in case you need to test. Make sure you have juice and insulin, for either a high or a low blood sugar flip. Make sure you go to the doctor to have your A1c taken to keep you on track. Make sure you have a job with good medical insurance so you can afford all the supplies you need. Make sure you have friends and family who can support you on your journey with this disease. Make sure you don’t overindulge/undereat/over-compensate/under-estimate.
I’m confused at times, because while I’m young and healthy and in control now, I wonder what my future will hold for me. I hope I’ll always be healthy. But I’m never sure. I can’t really “make sure.” I can just keep trying. And hoping.
Can marketing materials tap that uncertainty? Can they show the efforts we put forth to acheive good health? What kind of picture or tagline or template would they use to show our lives?