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NAMI StigmaBuster Alert: July 15, 2005


Wendy's Withdraws

While fighting Tom Cruise with one hand, many Stigmabusters have also protested with the other a recent television commercial for Wendy's fast food chain -- in which a customer can't decide what to order, because he suffers from "multiple personality eating disorder."

We were able to contact Wendy's Vice-President for Marketing. They are discontinuing the commercial, though it may still appear in a few markets until the withdrawal is complete.

National Antistigma Campaign

At NAMI's recent annual convention, representatives of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services and U.S. Advertising Council presented information about federal efforts against stigma. Focus group data from the Ad Council was especially intriguing as a guide to campaign strategies.

Along with other PowerPoint presentations from the convention, the three presentations from the workshop "National Efforts to Address Discrimination" can be read on the NAMI Web site.

1. Chris Marshall, SAMHSA
Overview of the National Campaign

2. Deanna Troust, Vanguard Communications
Elimination of Barriers Initiative

3. Deborah Leiter, Ad Council
Research Findings & Strategy

Thank You

Thank you for continuing to be our eyes and ears in reporting cases of stigma in the news, entertainment and advertising media. Because of the volume of messages received, we cannot reply to most of them, but please be assured that they are reviewed carefully for appropriate action.

During a recent NAMI Leadership Institute, in a workshop on challenging stigma in the media, the following advice was offered:

Set Priorities: Pick Targets Carefully

  • Most outrageous cases
  • Where does humor stop and stigma begin?
  • High public profiles offer teaching opportunities, but you can't protest everything. Other programs, goals and tactics are important.
  • Look for leverage over the source of stigma: contact commercial sponsors (TV, radio) or points of sale (stores).
  • Timing is important. Try also not to make things worse by publicizing something that otherwise will be ignored.

Tools & Tactics

  • Be polite. Don't assume bad intent. Seek positive dialogue. In local communities, ask for a face-to-face group meeting with editors, reporters, managers or other sources.
  • Check Web sites or call switchboards to find out the name of company presidents, editors, or other key executives
  • Telephone conversations or voicemail message; explain concerns.
  • Personal letter; fax; or email.
  • Letters to editors.
  • Submit longer op-ed articles about stigma -- including movie reviews.
  • Point to specific examples and dates and patterns over time.
  • Tell a short personal story about your experience with mental illness.


Be realistic. Declare victory if any progress is made. Build relationships for future dialogue. Responses will vary:

  • Ignore
  • Disagree
  • Dialogue
  • Apology
  • Discontinuation
  • Correction—making amends
  • Partnership—working together

We all have more power than we know! Speak out in your community!

Stella March, National Coordinator
NAMI StigmaBusters

To receive NAMI StigmaBuster Alerts directly in your inbox, visit and check the box next to StigmaBusters.

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