Web Brain gives Alzheimer's education

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An estimated 4.5 million Americans have Alzheimer's disease, a number that could skyrocket to 16 million by 2050. Yet there is no knowledge of the cause of the disease, and no cure.

To educate people on the disease, the nonprofit Alzheimer's Association, Chicago, has debuted an interactive Web Brain on its site at www.alz.org.

"We want to solve Alzheimer's disease and rid the world of it," said Robert Beatty, the association's director of direct marketing.

The Web Brain educational tool shows how Alzheimer's affects various parts of the brain and the steps the disease takes as it progresses. The visual brain provides easy access to each segment by clicking on each part with a mouse.

This Web Brain was created by the THD agency. The in-house communications team at the Alzheimer's Association handled the coinciding direct mail packages.

"We found a tremendous increase in response with this new feature as compared to the prepared packages we sent out," Mr. Beatty said. "It really seems to resonate well, and we have replaced our packages as a result of it."

The new packages mainly target donors who may know someone affected by Alzheimer's disease.

The Web Brain aims to drive people to alz.org, where they can find the donation page.

When tested in direct mail pieces, the Web Brain saw a 9 percent rise in response against the organization's control package.

Results from a recent study showed that the nonprofit also received greater quantities in both its acquisition and renewal programs.

The association is preparing to test larger quantities of the new packages before doing a mass rollout.

Since 1982 the group has awarded $185 million in research grants to fight the disease.

"Our goal is to build the broadest base possible," Mr. Beatty said. "There is never a time that we're not testing and striving to spread awareness."

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