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Nailing Infertility with an Ad

by Lynn Harris,,  June 7, 2010

She's a bird. He's a bee. In other words, they do it. And yet, we soon find out, what "should" be the most "natural" thing in the world isn't happening: After a year and a half of doing it, there's still no, um, bird-bee baby on the way. She wings another negative test across the bathroom; he sneaks a peek at his package -- his bee package -- in the mirror, wondering if it's all his fault. She gamely acts as baby shower gift-note secretary, wondering, "Who has a baby shower on her fourth child, anyway?" They, in a failed attempt to "relax," play a joyless game of bird-bee Jenga.

Mr. and Mrs. Bird-Bee are actually "Neil and Karen," who are actually two very funny deadpan actors in giant goofy costumes. They're the stars of a series of five webisodes at the centerpiece of a new campaign designed to raise awareness about infertility, one that nails the experience so knowingly and wittily that it's getting big love from the infertility community -- which is especially notable considering that, in fact, it's coming from big pharma. Sponsored, subtly (no, really), by EMD Serono -- Massachusetts-based maker of fertility drugs used to stimulate ovulation -- the "Increase Your Chances" campaign encourages couples to visit a specialist if they hit that fertility wall, and, more broadly, aims to change the way infertility is talked, or, more to the point, whispered about, in our culture. (Part of the campaign involves sending bird- and bee-clad actors onto the streets of small cities -- two weeks ago, it was Austin -- to "get couples talking about fertility issues.")

The Web spots also close with key facts about infertility: One in eight couples struggles with it; it's about equally likely that fertility issues will stem from the male as the female partner; 85 to 90 percent of fertility issues are treatable; infertility -- "just relax," my ass -- has no correlation with stress. While scattered dissenters find the humor trivializing, most bloggers and commenters became big fans on sight, sending the videos to each other and also (as one poster wrote) to "close (and fertile) friends who are trying to be supportive of me but who just don't quite understand what living with infertility is like." Read more and watch the episodes.


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