Advertisement Not ‘Fit’ For Purpose
I wrote this in 2014 but it seems I never got around to posting it. At the time, Honda had run into trouble with the advertising campaign for its new car, the Fit. In a promotional video, initially available only on YouTube, it was suggested that the Fit was a perfect ‘fit’ for anybody’s life except– and here’s the kicker – not if you’re a narcoleptic. Because narcoleptics fall asleep unexpectedly, you see. Ha-ha.
Unfortunately for them, one narcolepsy sufferer, Julie Flygare (author of “Wide Awake and Dreaming: A Memoir of Narcolepsy”) had her eyes wide open, just not quite wide enough to see the funny side of her condition. So she started a campaign on Change.org and got the company to remove the ad. Indeed, Honda issued a full apology, saying that they “did not intend to hurt those affected by the condition.”
Precisely why sufferers might have been so upset was made clear by amateur film-maker Sarah Elizabeth, who made a video responding to the jibe, which you can see for yourself on YouTube. Her added voiceover rather diminishes the funny as she details what suffering from narcolepsy is like:
There is no such thing as a funny medical condition.
Narcolepsy is an uncontrollable, neurological disorder and auto-immune disorder that affects the control of sleep and wakefulness, excessive daytime sleepiness, frightening hypnagogic hallucinations and, in some cases, cataplexy.
Cataplexy is a sudden loss of muscle control or strength that leads to feelings of weakness and a loss of voluntary muscle control. This can be anything from slurred speech to total body collapse. It is often triggered by intense emotions, even good emotions like laughter.
One study has suggested that the average healthy person would have to go three days without sleep to feel as tired as the average narcoleptic.
Narcolepsy is very difficult to treat because the exact cause is still unknown. There is no cure.
Still think narcolepsy is funny? We aren’t laughing.
Unfortunately, despite being pulled by Honda, the advert did still go on to run on some US television networks. Naturally, this was upsetting for sufferers (of whom there are some 50,000 in the US alone) and led to a lack of understanding and tolerance in those who they encounter in their day-to-day lives, which are hard enough already.
What sufferers are hoping now is that, by way of retribution, Honda might drop off a donation to Project Sleep, a narcolepsy charity which is funding research into the condition and looking for a cure… between naps, at least.