Autism Speaks seeks a 'Year of Kindness' for its 15th birthday

Nonprofit is unveiling a new ad, social campaign and updated logo that marks evolving perceptions of the disorder.

For the last 15 years, Autism Speaks has brought attention and funding to this once little-discussed disorder. The organization is commemorating the milestone with an updated logo, a commercial that depicts people on the spectrum engaging in a variety of ways and an ambitious goal to inspire one million acts of kindness toward those with autism.

"So much has changed in the world of autism since we were founded in 2005," said Angela Geiger, chief executive officer of Autism Speaks. "With years of learning behind us, we chose our 15th birthday to reintroduce ourselves to the world—recognizing how far we’ve come and stepping into the future with optimism and a deepened commitment to addressing the challenges and opportunities within our community."

The new logo adds a gradient of soft, purple hues to the familiar, big, blue puzzle piece and includes a lower-case "autism speaks" rendition. "The updated look represents the diversity of the autism spectrum in a visual way," said Geiger.

The commercial, which is set to appear on national television and digital and social channels, shows a range of young people on the spectrum, each of them communicating and participating in community or family life. 

Actor Andrew Duff, who is on the spectrum himself, narrates the spot. Scenarios depicted in the 60-second spot include a triumphant young man, performing at a choral event. Another young man’s level of communication is but a broad smile after he’s kissed on the cheek.

Autism Speaks is also launching a "Year of Kindness" campaign, where the nonprofit is inviting people to perform acts of kindness and log them on a kindness list on the nonprofit’s website. The goal is to collect one million acts of kindness towards people with autism by the end of 2020. 

"Understanding and acceptance are central to our mission and we are hoping our work to make 2020 the Year of Kindness will help create a kinder, more inclusive world for people on the autism spectrum," Geiger noted.

Autism Speaks’ agency partners include Craft & Commerce, which devised media strategy across all platforms, Oberland, which conducted research around the new brand identity and produced content used in the campaign. Sons & Prophets handled creative direction and logo development and also produced the television spot.

In the 15 years since Autism Speaks was founded much has changed in how the disorder is viewed. Insurance covers autism treatment, where it did not always before. Increased federal funding is being directed toward research and care. 

Additionally, there’s a greater understanding that autism encompasses a range of behavioral and communications disorders. Autism is estimated to affect 1 in 59 children.

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