If you or someone you know has migraines, chances are you’ve already seen one of many posts online about Excedrin’s latest campaign to raise migraine awareness.

For those of you that have not, I am here to share with you what that buzz earlier in April was all about.

The team over at Excedrin® decided it was time to introduce a more inventive method to help foster empathy for people living with migraines. Focusing on symptoms like sensitivity to light and sound, disorientation, and aura the end result was creating an augmented reality that simulates to non-sufferers what a migraine attack can feel like.

The Migraine Experience Program took a couple of years to fully come together. A great amount of time was spent to fully conceptualize the experience – from building the headsets, to determining the appropriate symptoms to portray, and then piloting the experience to ensure it would work the way Excedrin® and GSK wanted it to. This certainly did not happen overnight, but it was important to give the program the appropriate amount of time and thought to ensure we had the opportunity to make the impact the companies wanted.

Woman Migraine Experience
Pictures from the Augmented Reality Experience provided by Weber Shandwick – (credits: Excedrin)

With over 38 million American’s living with migraines how exactly did Excedrin® find their participants?

A third-party organization was enlisted to help identify the best candidates. Real-life migraine sufferers and Excedrin® users who wanted to help to share their story were called upon to put this augmented reality technology to the test. Those selected individuals had the opportunity to try the migraine simulator with a colleague, family member or friend who was not a sufferer.

Last week I had the opportunity to chat with Jessica Pomerantz; one of the participants with The Migraine Experience.

It turns out that Jessica is an incredibly talented singer who released her very first album, Simple In Disguise on iTunes and owns her own tutoring business that specializes in College Admissions with help in both the Spanish and French languages.

Jessica remembers being around 11 and 12 years old when she was always experiencing headaches. It wasn’t until about the age of 15 that what seemed like incredibly severe headaches turned out to be a diagnosis for migraines with aura.

Like most migraineurs, Jessica sees a neurologist. In her early 20’s Jessica’s migraines worsened causing a great amount of concern. Several MRI’s proved nothing unusual was going on. For Jessica it can be frustrating to hear everything looks just fine; especially when you’re living with a neurological condition that currently has no cure.

Jessica shared one of her worst migraine moments. It happened while shopping at a local pharmacy. Once the aura hit the time frame from when Jessica could get home was very limited. The rest of her debilitating symptoms; head throbbing and/or pounding, sensitivity to light and sounds, would soon follow giving Jessica no other choice than to leave her unpaid items behind. She immediately ran out of the pharmacy to find a reliable means of transportation then arrived to her apartment where it was hours before the symptoms finally subsided.

On average Jessica experiences migraine attacks at least once a month. However, there are occasions when those attacks can happen twice a week. As of lately they have been so debilitating it becomes impossible for her to do anything.

A frequent question migraineurs are often asked if they have considered eliminating certain products or ingredients from their diet. Gluten just happens to be one of those commonly mentioned items. It is something Jessica cannot have anyways. She avoids consuming any type caffeinated items unless it’s on a day when a migraine attack sneaks up on her. Only then can caffeine help aid in helping lessen or eliminating her symptoms.

Given all of the factors about Jessica and her history with migraines I can see exactly why Excedrin® felt she would fit into their plan to help a non-sufferer relate in a way they hadn’t before with their loved one, friend or co-worker.

As a person spending the last 3 decades living with migraines, I could definitely relate to Jessica.

The main connection I felt with her was having a significant other that knows you are not feeling well yet tries to convince you that what you’re experiencing is “just a headache” and to not cancel plans or leave early because that pesky migraine should eventually pass.

After Jessica was chosen to take part in The Migraine Experience she had no reservations on whom the lucky person would be donning the augmented reality gear. Her boyfriend Dan Rosenbaum. Together these two embarked on something that really had the migraine community talking. The focal topic amongst the majority of the groups was whether or not a person could TRULY feel compassion after wearing a device for only a few minutes?

This is what Excedrin® posted on their website after Jessica and Dan shared a few of their thoughts before the Migraine Experience:

Like many sufferers, Jessica feels misunderstood: “People don’t understand what migraines feel like because the symptoms are also hard to imitate,” she says. Jessica suffers from some of the condition’s most common symptoms, including aura and sensitivity to light and sound, which she describes as “Like ambulance sirens going off in your head, but 1,000 decibels louder.”

Dan, Jessica’s boyfriend, volunteered for The Migraine Experience because “it’s heartbreaking to see her in so much pain.” But Dan feels some doubt about the condition as well — “I think it’s just a much stronger headache.” And there’s frustration there, too: “When the world stops for her, it stops for me.”

Jessica thinks the experience will draw them closer to a mutual understanding. “He’ll really empathize, so the next time I get one, there won’t be any rolling of the eyes.”

Jessica and Dan spent 2 full days filming the migraine experience portion, a half day of filming with the two of them talking on the couch, another half day of behind the scenes; which was implemented for the commercial, and finally an additional half day for Jessica to do voice overs.

In all, it took about 5 days total to compile the footage needed for Jessica’s and Dan’s video.

I don’t know about you, but this video made me tear up at least twice.

Dan is such a trooper for attempting the augmented reality experience. I think it was admirable of him to accept Jessica’s invitation to walk a few feet in her shoes. Witnessing his genuine feelings of empathy towards Jessica as he reached out for her hand while she asked him “Do you think you could sit in a restaurant with the symptoms that you were experiencing?” and without holding back Dan honestly replied, “No!”had me cheering for migraineurs all over the world.

As a partner and caregiver it is vital to emotionally and morally support someone living with any type of debilitating medical condition. In this particular instance Excedrin® had truly changed the perspective of one more non-sufferer. Now that is what I call a reality check, or to better phrase it, a virtual reality check!



To learn more about Excedrin® and their mission to raise migraine awareness visit their website and take a moment to view each video: https://www.excedrin.com/migraine-experience/

Check out Excedrin’s Facebook Page

Follow them on Twitter

To find out more about Jessica’s music check out her Facebook Page

Head over to iTunes and check out Jessica’s new album that is available for download

Jess Pomerantz Album Pic


GSK Consumer Healthcare is one of the world’s largest consumer healthcare companies. Their pur-pose is to help more people around the world to do more, feel better and live longer with everyday healthcare products.

To learn more about GSK Consumer Healthcare and their products visit their website: http://www.gsk.com/