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Psoriasis: baring all

It's hardly surprising that skin disease isn't a regular feature on the media pages, as society continues to embrace the 'body beautiful'

It's hardly surprising that skin disease isn't a regular feature on the media pages, as society continues to embrace the 'body beautiful'. But Psoriasis: The Naked Truth broke the mould. Designed to expose the truth about psoriasis, the programme brought the disease firmly on to the media agenda and provided patients with the opportunity to address public misconceptions and stimulate attitudinal change. The visually engaging imagery and inspirational testimonies combine to create an exceptionally successful programme, implemented to date in 16 countries, generating extensive positive coverage and revealing the 'naked truth' to more than 93.1 million people worldwide.

 

Models

Maria Grazia (left) from Italy and Maria Javiera from Chile were two of the patients featured in the exhibition.

 

Challenge
Psoriasis, a chronic condition characterised by red, scaly, patches of skin, affects over 5.1 million people in Europe and poses a significant burden both on patients' lives and healthcare systems. Media coverage of psoriasis has traditionally been data-driven – focused on studies, presentations at scientific congresses and advances in treatment. Articles, interviews and segments rarely provide insight into the experience of living with psoriasis, a socially isolating condition that is often mistaken as merely a cosmetic nuisance but, in fact, has considerable impact on both the mental and physical wellbeing of patients. Furthermore, the natural repulsion to psoriatic skin images has resulted in many medical and consumer media typically shying away from featuring the disease.

Solution
In order to generate meaningful and motivational media coverage – to succeed where previous psoriasis campaigns had failed – it was necessary to gain insights into the experiences of the psoriasis patient. What emerged was that patients spend a lot of time hiding – literally, beneath clothing and,  figuratively, avoiding social situations due to embarrassment and discomfort.

To open people's eyes to the truth – the naked truth – about the realities of living with psoriasis, a group of patients agreed to expose their skin to an award-wining photographer and to share their stories.  The inspiring photographs and uplifting stories formed an engaging and motivational exhibition that helped to override media scepticism about the severity of the condition and eliminated discomfort prompted by 'unsightly' medical imagery of psoriasis.

The Psoriasis: The Naked Truth exhibition was unveiled at a pan-European media event, then travelling throughout Europe and the Middle East for media, patient and professional activities. Patients acted as campaign ambassadors taking part in interviews. A website featuring a virtual gallery provided further exposure.

Results
Since launch, 223 print articles, online features and broadcast pieces have been generated worldwide, successfully bringing psoriasis to the attention of the media and, through their outlets, to the wider general public, so that a total of over 93.1 million people have learned the 'naked truth' about psoriasis.

Client verdict
"Psoriasis: The Naked Truth represents a truly integrated, pan-European awareness and behavioural change programme that has effectively reached patients, the general public and healthcare professionals across the region. The programme has exceeded all of our expectations, building communities and providing a platform for patients to educate, tell their stories and address stigma."
Gill Markham, Regional Communications Director, Pfizer

Communique Awards 2010
The Psoriasis: The Naked Truth was the finalist in Excellence in Healthcare Communications using Media Relations (International) and Excellence in Healthcare Communications using Digital Media categories.

 

Case study details

Client: Pfizer
Agency: OgilvyHealthPR
Campaign: Psoriasis: The Naked Truth
Timescale: 2009 to present (ongoing)

28th April 2011

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