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Catching the Butterflies: Spotting the Symptoms of Thyroid Disorders in Children

by Merck
with support from Porter Novelli London

Summary of work

Thyroid disorders are among the most frequent diseases in the world, with about 1.6 billion people at risk. Despite this, awareness is low. Up to 50% of those affected are thought to be unaware and suffering in silence. Merck challenged Porter Novelli to help raise awareness of thyroid disorders during International Thyroid Awareness Week in 2016, with a focus on infants and children to encourage testing among those displaying symptoms, while positioning Merck as a leader in the field of thyroid disorders.

We needed a creative campaign platform and simple execution that would resonate with parents and appeal to children globally. So we developed Hypo and Hyper - two illustrated butterflies inspired by the ‘butterfly’ shape of the thyroid gland - and brought to life in an emotive and universally understandable way by a leading children’s artist.

Using Hypo and Hyper we created an educational story that brought to life the symptoms and impact of thyroid disorder on children. Porter Novelli and Merck Global worked with Merck’s local affiliates to roll-out the campaign in 33 countries. It was supported by 20 third party groups, reached over 20 million people and resulted in 14,500 children and adults being tested for thyroid disorders.

Judges' comments

The Catching the Butterflies programme engages children and helps parents manage their children’s problems in a creative and effective way. The segmentation is really nice and it showed a good use of multiple channels.


Bayer iMCM Lighthouse Project - by Bayer
with support from Oi Ltd

Highly commended

Skin-telligence - by Thornton & Ross
with support from Pegasus

Highly commended

Merck Growth Hormone eHealth Programme - by Merck
with support from W2O Group


Key dates

Entry deadline 25 August 2023
Extended entry deadline 1 September 2023*
*additional fee applies
Judging Day 10 October 2023
Company/Team of the Year Interviews 3 November 2023
PMEA Event 22 November 2023