Client: Janssen-Cilag Limited and Organon Laboratories
PR Team: Greenlines Healthcare Communications
Campaign: Understanding Schizophrenia art competition and exhibition
Timescale: April 1997 -February 1998
Cost: pounds 15,000
Since 1993, pharmaceutical companies Janssen-Cilag and Organon
Laboratories have jointly marketed Risperidone, an anti-psychotic drug
used to treat schizophrenia.
Legal restrictions on the promotion of prescription drugs have meant
that the two companies’ promotional activities have so far been confined
to targeting mental health professionals.
But in 1997, to bring some benefit to the drug’s end users, the two
pharmaceutical companies decided on an educational campaign,
Understanding Schizophrenia, which aimed to break down the stigma of the
illness among the general public.
To encourage more informed comment about schizophrenia and highlight the
successes of people with the illness. To achieve this, the companies
wanted to build links with a range of charities and make a positive,
demonstrable commitment to people with schizophrenia.
Research among major mental health units and charities showed a strong
link between art therapy and mental illness. So, an art competition
seemed the most appropriate activity and was also a UK first.
In May and June last year, a colour leaflet about the competition was
distributed to 78 charities, support groups and mental health units
throughout the country. In addition, Janssen-Cilag and Organon
Laboratories’ sales representatives distributed information to
psychiatrists and mental health units on their rounds.
Artists were asked to create images that illustrated their experiences
of schizophrenia. The winners would receive pounds 100 for themselves
and pounds 100 for a charity of their choice.
By the August deadline, the competition received over 100
In September a panel of experts, including Dr Sarah Wilson of the
Courtauld Institute of Arts and Jeremy Lewison, acting keeper of the
Modern Collection at the Tate Gallery, judged the entries.
The panel chose 19 images for an exhibition at Gallery 47 in central
London. Called Imagination Unchained, the show ran from 9 to 21 February
this year and gained an additional pounds 6,500 sponsorship from MSF
An opening reception at the gallery attracted over 40 guests and more
than 400 people visited the exhibition itself.
In terms of media coverage, Time Out highlighted the exhibition as ’pick
of the week’ and the Independent recommended it as ’make sure you
In addition, the Times featured an interview with one of the artists
about her work.
To demonstrate their commitment to art therapy, Janssen-Cilag and
Organon Laboratories used images from the competition for an innovative
Over 5,000 of these were sent to key prescribers, other health
professionals and 70 affiliated companies around the world.
People who attended the exhibition were clearly very impressed as
comments in the visitors’ book ran to over 20 pages.
The event also opened doors for many of the artists involved, some of
whom received commissions or gained the confidence to approach a local
gallery with portfolios of work.
Gerry Thompson, sales and marketing manager at Janssen-Cilag says: ’It
(the campaign) did much to raise awareness of the issues surrounding
schizophrenia, but also allowed contact with an important group of