We're excited to announce we have won a prestigious award for a campaign described as a “global game-changer” in the way autistic people are perceived and treated.

The North East Autism Society (NEAS) won the “Not For Profit Campaign of the Year” at the North East Marketing Awards for its World Autism Acceptance Week campaign.

As the region’s leading provider of services and support for autistic children, young people and adults, NEAS set out to fundamentally change the narrative on how people view and understand autism.

Marketing Awards

The charity launched a “Going For Gold” initiative ahead of what is traditionally branded as “World Autism Awareness Week” at the beginning of April. As well as changing its corporate colour from blue to gold, NEAS also sought to raise public understanding of autism and neurodiversity to a new level by replacing “Awareness” with “Acceptance”.

In previous years, local authorities, businesses and key locations had been asked to support World Autism Awareness Week by illuminating their buildings and landmarks in blue. However, for 2019, they were asked to use gold – a colour associated with positivity, success and achievement.

Landmarks taking part in the "Going For Gold” campaign included Penshaw Monument, Seaburn Lighthouse, the Gateshead Millennium Bridge, the Tyne Bridge, Newcastle Civic Centre, Middlesbrough Centre Square Fountains, Darlington Clock Tower, the Northern Spire Bridge in Sunderland, and Durham Fire and Rescue Service Headquarters.

More than 40 schools also pledged their support by signing up for awareness workshops and fundraising activities.

To mark the shift from ‘autism awareness’ to ‘autism acceptance’, NEAS also produced a unique charity ribbon in the shape of a gold infinity loop that symbolises neurodiversity.

Campaign of the year award

Receiving award : Fiona Urquhart, right, presents the award to NEAS Marketing Manager, Lisa Taylor, and members of the marketing team, Lindsay Bruce and Abby Patterson

Presenting the award at The Discovery Museum, in Newcastle, Fiona Urquhart, Master of Business Administration at Durham University, said:

It was a real honour for the judges to meet so many fantastic organisations and individuals who demonstrate a real passion for their projects.

The judges described the winning campaign as ‘creative and disruptive’. It has clearly had a long-term impact on the organisation that will continue to positively improve lives. The execution and research were collaborative and integrative, making clever use of offline and online methods. The impact of the campaign is organisational and global and has made a mark that changes the game.

NEAS chief executive John Phillipson said:

The Society is blessed with dedicated and talented people who are passionate about improving the lives of people with autism and other neurodiverse conditions. This richly-deserved award recognises the lasting societal difference the marketing team is helping to make by using innovative and inspirational ways to change understanding and behaviour relating to autism and neurodiversity.