ALS Foun­da­tion Nether­lands: I have already died

Exhibited by
July 14, 2016
Medium of Communication
TV, radio, cinema, outdoor, print, online banners, social media, microsite
Target Audience
Type of Charity
Country of Origin
Date of first appearance

SOFII’s view

This powerful and moving campaign gives a storytelling platform to people who have ALS. Despite the tragedy of the stark message there is a dignity and humanity to this emotional fundraising and awareness multi-media campaign. 

Summary / objectives

ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease and Motor Neurone Disease (MND), is an incurable disease of the nervous system. As the disease progresses, the patient’s muscles stop working, one by one. Being diagnosed with ALS is considered a death sentence because no cure exists and most patients die within three years of diagnosis.

The ALS Foundation Netherlands (Stichting ALS Nederland) was determined to raise funds for medical research on the disease and to raise awareness of the condition. But they had no budget for a large scale campaign. 

The agency Publicis decided to ask ALS patients and their loved ones to serve as ambassadors for the Foundation. As part of a secret project, nine Dutch ALS patients were selected to take part in a film and photo shoot - under the watchful eyes of friends and family. They were filmed talking simply and frankly about the disease, and asking for donations to the Foundation. The message they provided?

'Support the ALS Foundation Netherlands. But not for me, I have already died.'

Each of the nine patients had already died before their ads were aired.

The first of the ads featured Joep Cobben, who was diagnosed with ALS in September 2009. His ad aired two weeks after his death in 2011.  It was a hard hitting demonstration that people who are diagnosed with ALS can transition from nearly normal to death in only a short time.

The campaign, aimed at raising awareness of ALS and raising funds for research, ran on TV and radio, outdoor, in cinemas, online banners, social media, a microsite and in print. The advertising was provided for free by media companies. 

In addition there was an extensive PR campaign and the ad launch featured on the national news as part of a larger story about ALS and the campaign. The story was picked up in talk shows, magazine and newspaper stories featuring family members and some of those patients who had filmed ads but were still alive to talk about the disease.


Six months after the campaign broke, awareness of ALS in The Netherlands had risen from 62% to 81%. 

Willingness-to-give rose from 27% to 40%.

Donations were up 500%. 

A special bonus was the unexpected participation of Princess Maxima, a much-loved member of the Dutch royal family, who saw the campaign and then participated in a fundraising event—a September 2012 swimming contest through the canals of Amsterdam. That event alone raised 700,000 EUR for the Foundation.

This campaign was presented in SOFII's I Wish I'd Thought Of That (IWITOT) session at the International Fundraising Congress 2015.