Michael J. Fox casts self in Parkinson's campaign

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Michael J. Fox will star in a public service ad he helped create for his eponymous Parkinson's disease research foundation that breaks on his final episode of ABC's "Spin City."

Mr. Fox also pitched ideas for the foundation's logo and shaped marketing plans for its Web site. The foundation and site will be launched May 23; the first PSA promoting the foundation airs before the final curtain call during Mr. Fox's last appearance May 24.

The spot, created by McCann Relationship Marketing, New York, melds Mr. Fox's humor with the seriousness of the disease from which he suffers.


The 5 foot, 4 inch actor, who often makes fun of his height, tells viewers that he's leaving the series for a new job: finding a cure for Parkinson's. After urging people to visit michaeljfox.org, he literally gets off a soapbox and stands with just the crown of his head and his eyes visible.

"He gave us so much input," said Carol Price, VP-account director at McCann. "Even when talking about his disease, he's just true to this kid we've known since the days of `Family Ties' and `Back to the Future.' He wanted that to come through in the spot." McCann has created three additional public service spots for the foundation as well as two print ads, all of which promote the Web site.

The site will also serve as an online community and information source for the estimated 1 million people who suffer from Parkinson's, a degenerative neurological disease that destroys brain cells controlling gross motor skills. The site, designed and managed by DNA Studio, Los Angeles, will host celebrity auctions and contains a section called "Fun and Diversions," said Thomas Lakeman, president of DNA. "It's an opportunity to include content that you normally don't see on a charity site," he said.

"I'm not shy about putting in my two cents," said Mr. Fox. "Rather than reject [my ideas] out of hand, or humor me and tolerate it, [the creative team] welcomes and encourages it."

Mr. Fox, 38, has talked about his intent to start a foundation since January, but marketing plans for the group didn't begin until March.

"We went through quite a range of exploratory [work] with Michael," said Kent Hunter, executive creative director at Frankfurt Balkind, New York, which created the foundation's logo. "He did all this homework."

In a tribute to Mr. Fox, PepsiCo will re-air on the "Spin City" season finale BBDO Worldwide's 13-year-old "Apartment 10-G," a Diet Pepsi commercial that featured Mr. Fox. PepsiCo also donated $100,000 to the foundation. Media buyers estimate the episode to score a rating of 15, as compared the series' season average of 8.4.

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