The invisible suffering of Ehlers-Danlos patients visualised

WMH&I has deployed its Power of Creativity philosophy in a new campaign that aims to raise awareness of Ehlers-Danlos Syndromes (EDS), and help sufferers get diagnosed.

‘Super Flexible Not Superhuman’ puts a spotlight on the symptoms of EDS, including joint hypermobility and skin hyperextensibility – the two are common to all 13 tissue connectivity disorders under the EDS umbrella.

While a flexible body is often considered a gift, for people with EDS it leads to chronic pains, regular joint dislocation, skin scarring and organ frangibility. EDS is also not as widely known in the medical profession, leading to extended time before diagnosis - averaging 12 years. WMH&I has created a striking campaign to illustrate these experiences.

The campaign, which will include the release of a Christmas charity single, brings to life the reality of what living with EDS really means and the toll it takes on the body. Featuring people suffering from EDS and quotes such as ‘I feel like I’m held together with chewing gum’ and ‘My jaw dislocates every time I yawn’ their bodies are distorted with CGI to dramatise the pain they feel constantly. The image style could be described as “Aphex Twin meets Dove Real Beauty”. These assets direct people towards a website explaining EDS, the symptoms to look out for, and offering advice about how to get health professionals to take your complaint seriously.

‘Super Flexible Not Superhuman’ will run across social media and UK-wide out-of-home over the coming weeks. The Christmas single will launch on 29th November with a live choir performance at Piccadilly Circus, supported with projector mapping of the campaign on the surrounding buildings. WMH&I also created the Christmas single vinyl sleeve design.

The project began with an email from music production duo TEM-PLE, aka Suzette and Aurora Partridge. In it, Aurora explained how she had recently received an EDS diagnosis – 10 years after she first began seeking medical advice about the daily pain she experienced.

After such unacceptable treatment, Aurora is determined to do whatever she can to stop others going through the same experience – starting with composing an original TEM-PLE Christmas charity single, and the email asked for pro bono support in spreading the word.

Wybe Magermans, Director of Growth at WMH&I, was moved by Aurora’s story. Two days later WMH&I and TEM-PLE had agreed to work together.

“Doctors misdiagnosed me with everything from growing pains to fibromyalgia. But that was an improvement on being told that it was all in my head or dismissed as an attention seeker,” says Aurora. “No one should have to go through this experience, so I wanted to do what I could to make sure they don’t.”

“I had no idea what would happen when we reached out to agencies, but WMH&I have been brilliant, taking our idea so much further than we could’ve hoped, and creating these amazing images which give visual expression of the pain I’ve lived with for so long.”

Wybe Magermans at WMH&I, said: “Aurora and Suzette’s email moved me, and made me determined to do something to help. ‘Super Flexible Not Superhuman’ is testament to their determination, and we hope it helps thousands of other people in the same situation. Hence, we feature Aurora as the model on the hero image.”

A multitude of partners have collaborated with WMH&I to bring ‘Super Flexible Not Superhuman’ to life –, also on a pro bono basis.

The striking photography is by Kristina Varaksina, whose portraits have appeared in titles including TIME, Harper’s Bazaar and The Guardian. Pop Creative worked on the CGI of the static images, which give the skin its stretched effect using 2D and 3D platforms to replicate the skin texture and give a chewing gum like effect. BRANDED gave up their photography studio to capture the models.

Type foundry Dalton Maag created a bespoke, ultra-stretched cut of its adaptable typeface Widescreen dubbing the cut 'Superflexible'. This typeface was used to create a variety of stretched and flexible logo marks.

The New York team of digital agency Fueled produced the website based on the design by WMH&I. Whilst OOH media is donated by Clear Channel and the projector mapping of the campaign on the buildings surrounding Piccadilly Circus is produced by In Depth.

Find out more about EDS by visiting this website.

Client Director - Wybe Magermans
Creative Director - Mark Nichols
Design Director - James Flint
Designer - Dan Coleman
Account Director - Rosie Brennan / Alice Connors
Account Executive - Charlotte Scobie
Strategist - George Wheeler
Copywriting - Antonia Green

TEM-PLE; Aurora & Suzette Partridge

Photography - Kristina Varaksina
Stylist & Make Up - Wendi Liu
Post production - Pop Creative
Photography agent - Peter Bailey
Studio - BRANDED
Typography - Dalton Maag

Media - Clear Channel
PR - Fourth Angel / Lander PR
Website build - Fueled
Projection Mapping - In Depth
Single Vinyl production - The Vinyl Factory
Single Vinyl print - Delga Press
Video production - Tailored Media