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Leith and Sanofi hoist the Meningitis Flag

The Meningitis Flag, the first ever global symbol created for and by the meningitis community to raise awareness of the disease was launched yesterday.

Ideated by creative agency Leith, the Flag was created as part of a broader integrated awareness campaign for Sanofi, the global biopharmaceutical company, Meningitis Research Foundation and the Confederation of Meningitis Organisations (CoMO) and launched online and across social on 28 August 2023.

Meningitis is a potentially devastating disease that can strike at any time. Affecting more than 2.5 million people globally each year, one in ten will die of the disease with 50 per cent of these deaths occurring amongst children aged five and under. Despite significant progress made over the last 20 years, meningitis is still the world’s 6th largest infectious disease killer.

Inspired by how the proudest moment for any athlete is to fly their country’s flag, Leith supported development of the Meningitis Flag that represents patients, families, and the community. For the para-athletes who have defeated meningitis, they not only fly their country’s flag, they fly this visible symbol of unity to defeat meningitis.

The Meningitis Flag was co-designed with Scottish based textile designer, Laura Spring, whose family have been affected by meningitis in the past; co-created with para-athletes affected by meningitis: Ellie Challis (Great Britain), Théo Curin (France) and Davide Morana (Italy); and the film was directed by Juriaan Booii, of Ridley Scott Associates, also a survivor of meningitis.

The flag features three distinct layers of shapes and colours – the yellow semi-circle represents the patient, symbolising hope and emphasising the importance of every individual. The purple triangle signifies the care and support provided by families. Pointing upwards like an arrow, it represents the speed and positivity in the race against meningitis. The sea of blue symbolizes the calm determination of the broader movement to defeat this disease by the meningitis community.

The campaign will run on digital media in multiple markets and will be amplified by macro-influencers, international athletes, Meningitis Research Foundation and CoMo members globally. Athletes Challis, Curin and Morana will act as ambassadors for the cause by sharing the symbol and their own personal stories throughout the campaign.

Brian Coane, partner, at Manchester and Edinburgh-based Leith, said: “We are incredibly proud to have worked on the Meningitis Flag. Advocacy for meningitis, despite all the great work that is going on, lacks the consistent visibility that other diseases have. There is no ‘pink ribbon’ for meningitis. Our strategic and creative approach was to help the community develop a unifying symbol to create a step-change in global awareness and advocacy. We hope that flying the Meningitis Flag will help provide the visibility, solidarity, and behaviour change required to help achieve the WHO’s road map vision to defeat the disease by 2030.”

Designer Spring added: “Co-creation was an integral part of the design process, driven by a deep desire to create a unifying symbol for the global movement against meningitis. Each element of the flag’s design carries significant meaning, representing the individual, the support system, and the collective drive to defeat meningitis. We hope that by creating a sense of unity, we can bring together individuals and organisations from across the world to harness our shared strength, hope and ingenuity to defeat meningitis.”

Director, Juriaan Booij, commented; “I contracted meningitis when I was 6 years old whilst on a family holiday. Even though my parents at that time had no idea of the severity of the situation, fortunately I received the right medical help and spent many weeks in hospital. I am one of the lucky ones and have been forever grateful for all the doctors and science that ensured my full recovery.”

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