How McCann Health turned coffee into powerful tool for Parkinson's detection

National Coffee Day carried a more serious undertone this year.

Around 60,000 Americans are diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease every year. 

Many people with treatable symptoms can go undiagnosed for years, some even decades. 

One of the earliest signs of Parkinson’s disease is loss of smell. Commonly affected scents are peppermint, anise, and coffee.

So what if a humble cup of coffee could help diagnose Parkinson’s disease?

"This is a simple, but effective idea that has the power to help with earlier diagnosis of a terrible, progressive disease like Parkinson’s," said June Laffey, chief creative officer at McCann Health New York, who was part of a team that helped raise awareness of Parkinson’s on National Coffee Day.

"Who would have thought that a cup of coffee could not just help you wake up but serve as a life-changing wake-up call?"

The agency partnered with coffee shops across America and created characters to educate coffee lovers on the importance of early diagnosis. With sleeves, lids, posters, tent cards, coasters and an interactive website, people were able to learn the signs of Parkinson’s and when it may be time to see a doctor. 

This activation followed a hugely successful pilot program at the World Parkinson’s congress in Japan targeting both consumers and health care professionals.

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