Multiple Sclerosis Saboteur

MS Australia has commissioned ‘Saboteur’ a television advertisement showing a woman sabotaging her own home. Multiple Sclerosis is a disease that affects the nervous system. The symptoms take many different forms and strike without warning. Sufferers ultimately become the victims of their own body. In the ad we see a woman break into a home and rig up a series of sinister traps. It is only at the conclusion that we find out why.

MS Saboteur screenshot

People with MS face considerable uncertainty in the ways the mind and body are affected by the disease. The ‘Saboteur’ advertisement is a creative reflection of this element of MS. The ‘Saboteur’ character in the advertisement is a metaphor for the way the body attacks itself with MS. When the advertisement begins, it appears that a woman has broken into a house, and is sabotaging different elements of different rooms. On hearing someone at the front door, she hides behind the door, and it is then the viewer sees that the woman returning home is the same as the woman behind the door.

The viewer realises that the woman has booby-trapped her very own home, and this is the metaphor for MS: that the body attacks itself. The booby-traps are all designed to simulate some of the symptoms of MS. The fishing wire tied at the top of the steps will make her fall down, the Vaseline smeared on her glasses will render her vision blurry, and the thumb tacks in the carpet will give her pins and needles. In all, the traps laid around the house make her home an unpredictable space to be in.

Click on the image below to play the video in YouTube


Saboteur was developed at Cummins & Partners, Melbourne, by creative director James Procter, art director Carolyn Davis, copywriter Matthew Page, agency producer Jill Wheeler, senior account director Evonne Williams and account director Bridget Jones (yes Bridget Jones).

Filming was directed by Sean Meehan, via SOMA Films, with producer Sam McGarry.

Editor was Peter Whitmore at Winning Post. Telecine (film transfer and colour-grading) was done by Paul Curtain at Digital Pictures. Post production was done by Andrew Shostack at MRPPP. Sound was designed and mixed by Phil Kenihan at Front of House. Music was composed and arranged by Daniel & Gideon Frankel, Dare Music Marketing. The actress was cast by Toni Higginbotham.

See my post on the MS Australia ‘Use By Dates’ print advertisement.

  • julie

    I’m glad you took the time to explain this metaphor cos I had no idea what the ad was trying to tell me. Far too subtle and far too obtuse to be advertising on a budget. it is not specific enough either MS is not the only condition that this ad could fit.

  • Zola

    The mystery has been demystified in an effecient manner.

  • Agree to disagree

    Julie, If you click through to YouTube you’ll see that it’s not that subtle for most people. Sometimes you need to be less obvious in order to be engaging. There’s nothing wrong with making people think.

  • Czes Kulvis

    When a movie is created, artists are trying to show something – and to make others think.
    But it is something completely different to live with such a big problem.
    In addition, I’d like to tell to all MS-ers – MS not necessarily must be a degenerative disorder. I was diagnosed with MS in August 1996 and I managed to be on a permanent remission from mid-1997.
    Details – on pages of my web site (
    Good luck –
    Czes Kulvis