Depression Alliance and Cymbalta launch – 2

I’ve written previously about Depression Alliance, a UK charity, organising an annual depression awareness week in April each year and the way it seemed that the 2005 event ‘Pulling Together’ was closely (too closely) linked to Eli Lilly’s launch of Cymbalta in the UK.

Just this morning I was sent a copy of the document that Depression Alliance produced for ‘Pulling Together’ by Truthman30. Many thanks.

Please download a copy here – Pulling Together – before we proceed – as I really want to take you through it page by page.

To set the scene, Depression Alliance at the time wrote: “The 2005 campaign highlights one of the most remarkable and positive aspects of the condition – how people pull together to defeat the illness.”

Well I have to say that wasn’t really quite the case, was it?

If you’d said that the aims of the campaign were to achieve increased awareness amongst healthcare professionals and patients of the established link between depression and somatic symptoms such as general aches and pains, and to improve recognition among journalists of general aches and pains in depression – then maybe I would have gone along with it. Oh and by coincidence, Cymbalta was THE new antidepressant that was launched by Lilly to relieve depression while at the same time combating the general aches and pains associated with Depression… in fact in America the campaign for Cymbalta is called “Depression Hurts”.

One last thing you should know. My day job is graphic design. I have made a living as a designer since 1979 – mainly in the corporate world in brands and annual reports. I now work as a strategy consultant. I think I know what I’m talking about when it comes to communication.

Right then – have you downloaded the PDF – Pulling Together ?

We can begin then, imagine I’m presenting the design work….


Cover: let’s start with a ‘fact’ right up front on the cover and really set the scene – let’s state the unmet clincal need Eli Lilly’s ‘research’ has discovered – let’s say “85% of patients believe that their quality of life would be improved if their aches and pains could be effectively managed”

Page 1: Forward by Amelia – mention Depression Alliance and the work it does. This publication needs to be seen to be credible. DO NOT mention who funded the research and the campaign at this stage. If you must mention ‘Pulling Together’ use that phrase we agreed, but don’t bother with anything more about how people pull together to defeat the illness. Just use ONE sentence.

Restate the statistic from the front cover and flesh it out a little – “99% of patients surveyed indicated they had physical symptoms with 85% believing that their quality of life would greatly improve if their aches and pains could be managed effectively. GPs are in agreement and believe that one of the key reasons that patients fail to achieve remission is because their physical symptoms remain unresolved.”

Finish the forward with a call to action – “Armed with these results, we call on patients and GPs to always consider and discuss the full range of symptoms, not just the psychological manifestations of depression.”

That’s enough, just remind the readers that we’re not just discussing the “psychological manifestations”

Page 2: key findings – very important for the skim reader.

What do you want the key findings to be? I’m not sure but I think we can work the copy so that we get the phrase “general aches and pains” into almost all (six out of eight) key findings. Also let’s pull out a big stat on the bottom of the page – “99% of respondents listed one or more physical (somatic) symptoms” – it means nothing but it looks good.

Page 3: This a tough page for us – the findings of the research only actually put general aches and pains 3rd from the bottom of a list of other symptoms. I think we can gloss over it. How about putting – “99% of participants considered one or more physical (somatic) symptom [sic] to be a key symptom of depression. These included: fatigue (85%), insomnia/hypersomnia (78%), appetite/weight change (58%), general aches and pains (49%) and sexual dysfunction (48%)”

I know that general aches and pains is way down the bottom, but we have written it in the context of the 99% statistic… what do think? This is a harder page to sort, but I think we can get it working for you.

Page 4: let’s get back on track here – start the page by pulling out and restating the front cover stat once again – large type/top of the page: “85% believed that their quality of life would improve if aches and pains could be managed effectively”

Then I think we can write just over a half page of copy here all about general aches and pains.

Then we can finish by talking about antidepressants and how effective they are (?) – except when it comes to treating associated aches and pains. This is good, it’ll give the drug reps a fantastic way to sell in Cymbalta…

Page 5: Another tough page really – aches and pains can be mentioned but only in passing and it’s bottom of the unresolved symptoms. I’ve got an idea – we can simply pull out in large type “aches & pains” – use an ampersand so we can get the words as large as possible across the bottom of the page. I know the words have nothing to do with anything else on that page – but I think it’s important that we we get “aches & pains” on any page we can.

Page6: Another problem with the chart – “symptoms most likely to remain unresolved when full remission is not achieved in patients.” When we have to use the data we always have the problem that aches and pains is third from the bottom on the list – which doesn’t look good for us.

One solution is simply mix up the chart data and we’ll put general aches and pains as the first item. No one really reads the numbers – we just have to get general aches and pains top of the list!

Then in the copy below I think we can work “general aches and pains” into 4 out of 5 of the bullet points.

Back cover: we have to come clean here and admit who funded the research – don’t worry the back cover is always throw away – no one takes any notice.


Well – that’s my take on what Depression Alliance and Amelia Mustapha signed off on – what it has to do with Pulling Together – “The 2005 campaign highlights one of the most remarkable and positive aspects of the condition – how people pull together to defeat the illness” – I can’t tell you. Personally, I think it was no more than a part of Cymbalta’s marketing campaign.

It’s an eight page advert for drug reps to take into GP’s surgeries when they’re pushing Cymbalta. It’s just an advert dressed up in the cloak of respectability.

And the design is rubbish!


10 Responses to “Depression Alliance and Cymbalta launch – 2”

  1. Matthew Holford Says:

    I’m struggling to read that doc, to be honest. Assuming that Amelia actually wrote that, then I don’t like the way that so many things are stated as cast iron fact. I suppose that’s just a style thing, but if forbids the reader from considering other possibilities, particularly if they don’t know that much about the subject matter. However:

    “Armed with these results, we call on patients and GPs to always consider and discuss the full range of symptoms, not just the psychological manifestations of depression.”

    I agree that when people are depressed, their behaviour becomes fully congruent, as they would say, in NLP. That is, people have a physical demeanour, which goes with their depressed thought patterns. That may include aches and pains, I wouldn’t know, but one doesn’t need drugs to deal with that pattern of behaviour, which includes drooping shoulders, eyes downcast, dragging feet, and so on.

    I can’t comment on the tactics used, because I don’t work in the field of graphic design, nor have I ever. However, the general trend of the text makes me inclined to suggest that the purpose is to convince more people are depressed, who had never even considered the possibility.


  2. Matthew Holford Says:

    Incidentally, I’ve been playing basketball with my son, all day, and my legs are killing me, but it’s OK, because I’ll nip out tomorrow and get myself some Cymbalta (TM), because it’s sure to be depression, rather than my lack of general fitness!


  3. admin Says:

    I’m glad you understand now Matthew – you simply can’t be too careful about these general aches and pains!

    On the copy – Amelia will not have written it. The copy, choice of charts, pagination and page layout will all have come from a PR/design company (probably Packer Forbes, I would guess). Depression Alliance should have had final sign off of design and copy and in my opinion should NOT have signed off such a shockingly biased document.

  4. seroxat secrets… Yet more on Cymbalta marketing... « Says:

    […] Depression Alliance and Cymbalta launch – 2 […]

  5. Matthew Holford Says:

    Well, as I’ve mentioned before, while cash may be handed over on the basis that it’s an unspecified educational loan, or whatever the language is, of this you may be sure: it will be understood that if the glad recipient should start saying unpleasant things about the donor’s products, the money will dry up.

    If our guess is right, then the booklet was saying something other than the text suggests, simply because it is written with a certain mindset: a certain goal. I wonder if Amelia realized that, or concerned herself with the possibility?


  6. admin Says:

    I’d be keen to debate the issue with her – if she didn’t realise what was going on then she’s supremely naive about the way the world of big pharma works.

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  10. truthman30 Says:

    Amazing, from the Parker Forbes (PR Firm for Lilly/Cymblta Marketing campaign) Website ..

    Consumer Media Campaign
    National Depression Week for Eli Lilly’s/Boehringer Ingelheim’s Cymbalta

    National Depression Week is held annually by Depression Alliance, the leading UK charity for people with depression. The 2005 campaign, Pulling Together, which highlighted how people pull together to defeat the illness, was co-sponsored by Lilly and Boehringer Ingelheim.

    – Total campaign circulation achieved: 21,569,796
    – Within two months the survey report had been downloaded by more than 3,600 visitors to the Depression Alliance website
    – In depth coverage by Dr Rob Hicks on Classic FM
    – Further national coverage in the Times and on BBC1

    This kind of “Cause Related Marketing” Is an absolute disgrace…

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