MetLife's "Remember Me" Helps Alzheimer's Causes

MetlifeMetLife Foundation’s “Remember Me” Web site is, among other things, a virtual gallery of family photos. A glance at the site’s home page reveals many a family memory — from sisters smiling on a sunny day to men playing cards on a fishing trip. When visitors go to the site, saveamemory.org, they’re greeted with a pop-up message telling of the millions of people who lose their memories to Alzheimer’s disease every year. Hover over a photo and a prompt appears: “Click to save this memory.”

MetLife Foundation gives $1 to Alzheimer’s charities every time someone clicks a photo in the gallery, with the goal of reaching $1 million for Alzheimer’s disease research, education and caregiver support. But clicks-for-bucks are common for causes, and charitable contributions are only part of this project.

“We wanted to do something that was more than simply support this cause from a monetary aspect,” says Richard Hong, MetLife’s vice president of global brand and marketing, who helped oversee the project.
Rather than donating a lump sum, MetLife Foundation hired the advertising agency Crispin Porter + Bogusky to create the interactive “Remember Me” Web site. The result is a digital marketing endeavor that is as innovative as it is moving.

Every image on the site, visitors quickly realize, has someone missing. Clicking on the photo makes them reappear, and an accompanying audio vignette begins to play.        
           
Click on a grainy black-and-white photo of a young bride, and a groom materializes by her side, helping her cut their two-tiered wedding cake. A man’s voice speaks in concert with the groom’s reappearance in the photo. He explains that when World War II ended, he shed his uniform and married his sweetheart as fast as he could — so quickly, in fact, that his suit still had the price tag hanging from it on their wedding day.

“My name is Red Jones and I married the love of my life,” he concludes. “Remember me.” Though the story was narrated by a CP+B employee, Red Jones is the actual groom in the photo.

“All of the people on the site are real,” Hong explains. “These are their real names and their real memories that are depicted.”

Red Jones, like the rest of the people who reappear in each family photo on the “Remember Me” site, had Alzheimer’s disease. When he died last year at the age of 90, he didn’t remember who he was, let alone his wedding day. By clicking on these photos, Hong says, visitors symbolically restore memories lost to Alzheimer’s. “What we’re really trying to do is deliver this emotional metaphor that dramatizes the real substance of what’s lost to the disease.”

The emotional experience of “Remember Me” is part of what sets it apart, says Matthew Atkatz, an interactive creative director at CP+B. “That’s kind of unique in the digital space,” Atkatz says. “It’s not a media oftentimes associated with emotional communication.”

Atkatz led the creative, digital and engineering teams at CP+B that worked on the site. The teams didn’t have to look far to find personal stories of Alzheimer’s affecting families — all of the people featured on the site are loved ones of employees at CP+B and MetLife.

Emily Haynes, who works in communications at cp+b, is Red Jones’ granddaughter. Haynes describes herself as “a granddaddy’s girl” who was thrilled to contribute the photo to the project. Haynes says she likes the idea that at any moment someone could be listening to her grandfather’s story, and “because of that, money is going to help fight this disease that he had.”

Once $1 million is raised, “Remember Me” won’t necessarily be over. Atkatz says that his team was in talks with MetLife Foundation about updating the project next year and taking things a level further: “The goal is to dial up the user participation even more.”

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