As a leading narcolepsy spokesperson and award-winning author of “Wide Awake and Dreaming: A Memoir of Narcolepsy”, please join me in requesting that Honda please remove the “Synth and Seattleites” (http://youtu.be/rC-zopOGVOI ) advertisement promoting the 2015 Honda Fit immediately and provide resources to promote truthful awareness of narcolepsy. In this ad, a cast of characters asks a Honda representative about the Fit’s various features. One character says, “I suffer from a condition called narcoleps…”and falls asleep mid-sentence while standing. The representative responds, “You shouldn’t be driving.”
I suffer from narcolepsy, a real neurological disorder affecting 1 every in 2,000 people (200,000 Americans and 3 million people worldwide) – including many children. While sleepiness is an aspect of narcolepsy, it is not common that people with narcolepsy fall asleep mid-sentence while standing. Many people with narcolepsy are accurately diagnosed and receiving treatment under the care of a board-certified sleep specialist, and driving cars successfully and legally. Similar to other medical conditions, our drivers’ licenses are monitored and approved by all 50 U.S. states’ Departments of Motor Vehicles (DMVs). To learn about the real narcolepsy, watch here.
Due to inaccurate unoriginal portrayals of narcolepsy like this, people with narcolepsy are subject to bullying, ridicule and discrimination in the classroom and the workplace. In the press release, Honda states that the advertisement “taps into the resourcefulness of Gen Y, showcasing a unique cast of characters and the ability of the Fit to handle whatever life throws at them.” Apparently, except narcolepsy. In truth, people with narcolepsy are the ones overcoming adversity daily and handling whatever life throws at them – including undue ridicule.
While I can forgive individuals for having misconceptions, I cannot forgive Honda’s marketing team who has the resources to learn about their customer base before launching a major media campaign. Many people with narcolepsy drive your vehicles daily and successfully – along with friends, family members and supporters. Furthermore, this is inconsistent with Honda’s philanthropic support of underserved communities and scientific education through the American Honda Foundation and the Honda of America Manufacturing Foundation.
Thank you for your time and attention. I am proud to be a person with narcolepsy driving successfully everyday but, unless actions are taken immediately to resolve this issue, I will be sure to never drive a Honda again.
Julie Flygare, JD