Recovering from severe burns is often an arduous, painful process that can leave permanent scarring. But even after the wounds have healed, some victims continue to suffer rejection and ridicule.
The latest spot in the long-running “See Different” campaign from Burns and Smiles, a French organization that advocates for burn victims, posits a different kind of experience for a teenager with severe burns.
Mathéo is a perfectly normal kid. He rides his bike to school, shows up to class late and gets reprimanded by teachers. He greets friends in the hall, makes eyes at a girl and is a pretty good shot on the basketball court. When things take a romantic turn, it’s the audience that gets called out for thinking this scene is something out of the ordinary—a point made with a refreshing, humorous twist.
While the ad from TBWA/Paris shares the same “Lets change the way we see burn victims” tagline as previous spots in the campaign, it’s a decided pivot from the faux documentary-style employed before. The uplifting, sweet tale set to Simon and Garfunkel’s “The Only Living Boy in New York” is a marked contrast to last year’s tearjerker that followed a burn victim under cover of night as he sneaks into and out of a movie theater to avoid the stares of other patrons.
A year prior to that, the same man enjoyed a poignant Halloween out in public, giddy that his scars could pass for a costume for one night each year.