Join My Petition: Request Honda Remove Inaccurate Ad Stating People with Narcolepsy Shouldn’t Drive

Screen shot 2014-06-22 at 12.21.33 AMHonda is “Fit For You” – Unless You Have Narcolepsy
Honda Fit Ad Implies People with Narcolepsy are Not Fit to Drive

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” ( ) 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

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  1. Mark Patterson on June 22, 2014 at 6:17 pm

    Thanks for jumping on this so quickly! The ad is supposed to be released this coming week, so my purpose in notifying everyone was to try and get the ad modified or cancelled before that happened. Once it is out on TV, it is hard to have people ‘unsee’ it, further fueling the public misconceptions about narcolepsy. Together we can do amazing things!

  2. Mary Smith on June 22, 2014 at 6:56 pm

    You know if this commercial was offensive to someone in regards to race, then the media would be all over it. I can tell you that it is just as hurtful for those with narcolepsy. My son has narcolepsy and has struggled in college the past 2 years because of it, and now has lost his federal loans because he has struggled. I don’t know what to do now. Where does he turn? What will he do? I can tell you that it has ripped his confidence and all he wants is a shot to do something better with his life. Watching a commercial make fun of our situation really hurts me. What makes this commercial even more hurtful, is that my husband is employed by Honda. Wow.

  3. Mark Dodd on June 23, 2014 at 12:54 pm

    This “advert” and things like the recent Modern Family episode make it apparent that disability vilification laws are required. There are laws to protect against racial vilification. People with disabilities exert a lot of energy and time trying to overcome misconceptions and urban myths about their conditions. Allowing advertisement like this to air undoes a lot of the hard work the awareness campaigns do. They also ensure that the disabled have to fight another round of misconception from friends, family and employers. I do understand than many people with narcolepsy do not regard it as a disability but it is by any definition. Disabled does not mean incapable.

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