With roles in Bonnie and Clyde (1967), The Producers (1968), or Young Frankenstein (1974), actor Gene Wilder is best known for his performance in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, a cinematographic masterpiece inspired by Roald Dahl‘s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory novel. Filmed in 1971, the movie represents a harmonious musical that guides the viewer through the land of fairies and although being quite old, it remains a timeless classic. Unfortunately, Gene Wilder died at the age of 83 because of complications he suffered from Alzheimer’s disease. Yet, until this day, his portrayal of Willy Wonka remains immortal.

To celebrate the National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month and to honor Wilder’s performance, the Alzheimer’s Association decided to re-watch the movie, focusing on one specific scene. Every detail of the film makes you think that you are living in a fairytale world. But no other scene better captures the magic and the essence of the highly-colored universe than the actor’s recital from “Pure Imagination.”

To keep Wilder’s memory alive, the organization, together with MullenLowe agency, created the Pure Imagination Project, a campaign that lets people know more facts about the disease. Equipped with a balanced dose of imagination, the collaborators brought the famous scene back to life only that, inspired by the last part of the actor’s life, they changed the script a little bit.

The original moment is quite emotional by definition, but once you’ll see the team’s interpretation, you’re going to need more than one tissue. Similar to Alzheimer’s disease that steals your identity memory by memory, the 90-second PSA features the sweet universe imagined almost five decades ago, as it fades piece by piece.

Not too long ago, Alzheimer’s Research UK organization’s campaign used words to explain how the disease manifests itself. Joining forces with popular app Shazam, the NGO released the “The Day Shazam Forgot” initiative, in which the app experienced symptoms of memory loss.

This time, the agency used, or rather removed, images to track the evolution of Alzheimer’s. Envisioning the famous background as the human brain and its colorful confectionery features as one’s precious memories, the creative team highlighted a beautiful story that loses its essence gradually — describing exactly how it feels to live in a place that, unfortunately, has no beginning anymore.

After one minute, the evident madness is stopped by a heartbreaking message: “Alzheimer’s can steal your imagination piece by piece. But with your help, imagine how we can end it.” The video directs viewers to the Alzheimer’s Association’s website and kindly asks them to donate either their imagination – by sharing a photo on social media, using the #PureImagination hashtag – or to financially contribute to the fight against the illness that affects almost 50 million people worldwide.

Karen B. Wilder, the actor’s widow expressed her thoughts regarding the project: “When I saw this campaign, I knew that it brilliantly and beautifully captured all that Alzheimer’s can take away, and my hope is that it will motivate people to learn more and to seek to change the course of this disease for future generations.”

The concept of the campaign was developed by David Olsen, the Group Creative Director at MullenLowe’s Winston-Salem office, whose father died because of Alzheimer’s. The Pure Imagination Project, which received support from Universal Music Group and Warner Bros. Entertainment, seeks to encourage people to imagine a world where Alzheimer’s doesn’t exist.


Client: Alzheimer’s Association

Agency: MullenLowe