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Wilder, Alzheimer’s Association call for imagination to end disease

November 6, 2017
by Nicole Stempak, Senior Editor
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The 1971 film “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” is an over-the-top overload, a rich feast for the eyes in part because of the rich creativity of Wonka, brought to life by late actor Gene Wilder.

In a new campaign, the Alzheimer’s Association gives a new look on what it means to have dementia.

In one scene, as Wilder sings the iconic song “Pure Imagination,” some of lush forest begins to disappear. Wonkaland is less colorful, confusing and, eventually, unrecognizable.

It’s uncomfortable—and heart wrenching—to watch Wilder’s Wonka lose his magic. It’s as painful as loved ones watch the progression of dementia.

 “Alzheimer’s disease is a brutal and unforgiving enemy that can rob a person of his self-expression, the ability to walk, to read, to write and to find joy in the world,” says Karen B. Wilder, widow of Gene who passed away from complications of Alzheimer’s in 2016. “Simply, the person loses himself.

“When I saw this campaign, I knew that it brilliantly and beautifully captured all that Alzheimer’s can take away, and my hope is that it will motivate people to learn more and to seek to change the course of this disease for future generations.”

The Pure Imagination Project was created pro bono by a creative team at MullenLowe’s Winston-Salem office, all whose families have been touched by Alzheimer’s disease.

But as quickly as candy disappears, its message appears: Come with me, immerse yourself in a world of pure imagination to find treatments.

 “The Alzheimer’s Association is honored to have the opportunity to reimagine this legendary film scene in such a powerful and poignant way,” said Chief Marketing Officer Michael Carson. “This campaign is an inspiring reminder that there is a lot of work to be done, but a world without Alzheimer’s is possible if we join together.”

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