“For years I tried to get people interested in Huntington’s Disease,” said Kelly Croall Spisak of Louisiana. A rare genetic disease that affects the neurological system, Spisak handed out thousands of brochures and pamphlets about HD, but never really felt like she was connecting with people.
That changed once she got a tattoo. Located on the underside of each wrist, one shows the Huntington’s Disease Society of America logo while the other states “Care to Cure HD.”
The impact was immediate. “Once people see the tattoos, they start asking me all about HD, what it is and why I got the tattoos,” Spisak said.
Spisak is not alone. She is one of a growing number of Huntington’s Disease patient advocates that are using body art as a way to help raise awareness about the disease.
Alicia Hogue was inspired after learning about Pat Wolf’s HD tattoo. “She had a little ‘Cure HD’ tat,” Hogue said. “Once the cure had been found, she was going to add a ‘D’ to it. I came up with my own version and my husband, who’s a tattoo artist, did it for me. I’ll add a D and color in the remaining puzzle pieces [once there is a cure].”
Tattoos typically have decorative and spiritual uses, including the memorialization of deceased loved ones. Many HD tattoos fall into this category. At the same time, the tattoos have generated many conversations about the disease unlike any pamphlet or brochure.
“Doing something different and interesting is a great way to generate word-of-mouth conversations about your cause, company or candidate,” said Joseph LaMountain, an adjunct professor at Georgetown University and President of SparkLight Communications. “A tattoo about a rare medical disorder definitely gets your attention and is a great way to get the conversation started.”
Of course, not everyone affected by HD will want to get a tattoo. But as word-of-mouth spreads, it seems likely that the number of people with an HD tattoo will grow.
“I’m not sure if the tattoo thing is something that a LOT of people do,” Hogue said, “but I think it’s just because they don’t think about it. I know that once my sister saw and heard about mine she vowed to get one too. I definitely think it’s something that is catching on though, for sure.”
Filed under: Advocacy, Grassroots, Health Care, Marketing | Tagged: alicia hogue, body art, grassroots communications, huntington's disease, huntington's disease society of america, joe lamountain, joseph lamountain, kelly croall spisak, martha coakley, patient advocacy, public awareness, sparklight communications, tattoos, trend, word of mouth |