Portraying Parkinson’s

A powerful poster campaign for Parkinson’s UK uses 26 imagemakers to portray the many symptoms of this debilitating disease

569_parkinsons_0.jpg - Portraying Parkinson's - 6108

Parkinson’s UK poster by Peter Crnokrak, The Luxury of Protest


A powerful poster campaign for Parkinson’s UK uses 26 imagemakers to portray the many symptoms of this debilitating disease

Ad agency The Assembly Network created the 20-poster campaign for Parkinson’s UK. The agency has a long-tern relationship with the charity, advising on communications strategy and devising campaigns such as last year’s ‘mixed up’ posters.

Parkinson’s UK head of marketing Lily Dwek says that last year’s campaign helped shift attitudes but that “our findings are that people don’t understand what Parkinson’s is at all. [With the new campaign] we are really trying to get people to understand Parkinson’s and to empathise. We wanted to explain the diversity of Parkinson’s and that everyone’s Parkinson’s is different.”


Claire Parsons


Astrid Stavro Studio


One of the particular problems is that sufferers often have a mixture of ‘motor’ and ‘non-motor’ symptoms. Dwek says that one of their challenges was “how do you portray a non-motor symptom? How do you portray not being able to sleep properly or having hallucinations?”

Assembly art director Alexandra Taylor’s solution was to recruit (with the help of designer Graham Wood) a diverse group of pro bono contributors to work with her to attempt to dramatise an array of Parkinson’s related conditions. “Each designer was given a specific condition of Parkinson’s and a headline/title and supporting body copy [written by Sean Doyle and Dean Webb] and as much information, case histories and client insights as possible,” ECD Steve Dunn explains. “Some spoke to people with the condition to glean first hand reality of their symptoms.” Others already had experience of people living with Parkinson’s due to family connections.


Jason Kedgley and Dylan Kendle, Tomato


Mark Bonner, GBH


Each contributor, Dunn says, was “encouraged to interpret this content in their own style… The only prerequisite as such, was that each ailment reflect the central theme of our communications – which was ‘Parkinson’s. A psychological horror’.”

The symptoms to portray were chosen by Parkinson’s UK who then tested the resultant posters with members of their community, some of whose feedback was incorporated in the final work. Dwek explains that in campaigns of this nature, charities have to engage in a lot of complementary communications work to ensure that their various constituents understand the aims of the work. “It’s crucial that we don’t offend people,” says Dwek, “but we are also very aware that we need to get the attention of the public.”


Laura Jordan Bambach and Liv Bargman. Photo: Nick Howe


Jonathan Barnbrook


Here lies one of the great problems of charity advertising – finding a balance between an approach that will cut through ‘charity fatigue’ and grab people’s attention but doing so without causing offence either to potential donors or those already affected by the cause.

Was the campaign’s emotive line ‘Parkinson’s. A psychological horror’ a particular concern here? “There are going to be mixed views,” Dwek concedes, “but we have to make the call on whether we want to make an impact or not. We want to be noticed and to put the charity on the map. We are trying to do that in an interesting way that is true to our values.”


Graham Wood


Flo Heiss. Type: Graham Wood. Studio Heiss


Another possibly contentious feature of the campaign is that none of the posters carry the Parkinson’s UK logo. Having listened to countless advertising art directors bemoan the straightjacket of corporate identity guidelines and many more creatives complain of having to work with a logo they find difficult or domineering, I find this an intriguing aspect of this campaign. Without the ‘official’ logo, there is obviously a danger that some may miss the connection with the charity. However, as pieces of communication, their power may perhaps be neutered by the presence of the charity’s corporate identity. It’s an argument that takes place in agencies and design studios every day.

As the client, Dwek’s view is interesting here. The main aim of the campaign, she stresses is “to change people’s attitudes, get them thinking about Parkinson’s and to empathise [with sufferers]… It’s not a brand campaign about the charity but about awareness of Parkinson’s – it’s a much bigger picture.” She also points out that the word Parkinson’s appears several times in each execution and that each poster carries the charity’s URL “so people can go to our website to find out more information – which is what we did in the previous campaign and we have the results to prove that worked.”


Ian Anderson, The Designers Republic


Domenic Lippa, Jeremy Kunze and Lucy Groom, Pentagram Design


Dunn argues that “In the general malaise of charity advertising, it was felt that anything that looked overtly like an ‘ad’ would make people switch off and given the charity¹s limited budgets, there is always a great need to stand out from the sea of emotional messaging we are constantly bombarded with.”

This touches on another intriguing aspect of this campaign which highlights a familiar debate: the posters don’t look like ‘ads’, they certainly don’t look like typical charity ads. Will they therefore attract more attention and engagement or will the public be confused by them or assume they are for perhaps a band or a theatre production? Perhaps the important thing to bear in mind is that these 20 posters represent just one aspect of the charity’s communications. Alongside them, the charity engages in all manner of support and awareness-generating activity.


Tom Hingston, Tom Hingston Studio


Vaughan Oliver. Illustration: Ian Pollock


Vaughan Oliver. Photo: Colin Grey


The work may also have a life beyond posters. Having so many different contributors involved, some of whom have tackled the same symptoms but in different ways has, Dwek says, provided the charity with “a great suite of creative images that we can use in different settings. I was really pleased with the way the campaign evolved with different takes on different symptoms.”


The posters had a soft launch before Christmas at 100 six-sheet sites in London train stations. The charity is now planning further bursts of activity over the coming year and looking at how to use the imagery in other media.


Vaughan Oliver. Illustrator: Marc Atkins


Graham Wood


Photo: Warren Du Preez and Nick Thornton Jones. Design: Graham Wood


Neville Brody, Research Studios



Tony Brook, Spin


Eddie Opara, Pentagram Design


Agency: The Assembly Network.
Executive Creative Director: Steve Dunn
Writers: Sean Doyle and Dean Webb.
Art Director: Alexandra Taylor.
Art Producer: Donna Goldberg.
Account Manager: Anneliese Wensley
Managing Director: Kate Fulford-Brown.
Client: Parkinson’s UK

Full list of collaborators; Nick Howe and Colin Grey, Ian Pollock, Marc Atkins. Jonathan Barnbrook. Graham Wood, Vaughan Oliver. Neville Brody, Jason Kedgley and Dylan Kendle at Tomato, Eddie Opara, Jeremy Kunze, Lucy Groom and Dominic Lippa at Pentagram, Tony Brook at Spin, Ian Anderson, Mark Bonner, Laura Jordan Bambach with Liv Bargman, Flo Heiss, Tom Hingston, Claire Parsons, Peter Crnokrak, Astrid Stavro, Warren Du Preez & Nick Thornton Jones.



  • astroboy

    WTF? I was eager to see these and then horrified to view them.

    “we are really trying to get people to understand Parkinson’s and to empathise.”
    I’d say they utterly failed in that mission. The main feeling I get from the posters is not understanding and empathy but horror and psychological avoidance of the issue.

    I understand most of the symptoms, as a family member of someone who suffers, but those that I didn’t weren’t communicated in a way that encouraged engagement, empathy or intimacy.

    I think improving understanding needs to be done without horror. Its a frightening diseases as it is and one of the problems is, that the symptoms are already so scary that people are afraid to self diagnose, discuss or ask for help.
    I don’t know if charity fatigue is a real concept but if it is, one of the reasons might be, is that people are afraid to deal with scary realities of famine, abuse etc. Trying to >actually

  • PatrickBurgoyne

    @ Astroboy

    Yes, I think that’s one of the most interesting aspects of this campaign and one that we debated a lot here in the office. As I mentioned in the piece I guess it’s important to see this work in the context of the other activity Parkinson’s UK does as well as the conundrum of trying to instigate a reaction versus going too far in frightening people. As I understand it, this campaign is just one part of an ongoing strategy that Parkinson’s UK has which involves different ways of tackling issues around awareness and support

  • These are truly inspirational and excellent pieces of work. They portray the topic extremely well and conceptualise this sensitive topic in ways that provoke ones senses and feelings. Great stuff!

  • Matt.

    It’s a nice approach to the conventional charity ads usually seen. Its borderline safe. I like. Just not sure about some of the approaches in terms of style and aesthetic. Some posters look pretty dated, especially Neville Brody’s and Flo Heiss’s but, the end line fits nicely around the idea of what Parkinson’s is.

  • Steve Dunn

    I’m going to jump in if I may, and comment because this post is all shiny and new and then I’ll get on with life and leave these big white boxes to someone else to fill. This is one strand of our planned communications – which are diverse and multi-pronged. Primarily the need in this medium against the tide of advertisers and other charities that have deeper pockets and more directly heart-string-tugging content, was to cut through, get attention, educate and perhaps encourage people to learn more themselves (ideally via http://www.parkinsons.org.uk). In other channels and media there will be work which will be much more emotional; these are almost ‘information’ posters – and the information they carry is that Parkinson’s is much more than just tremors – it profoundly affects lives in a myriad of ways. I think of them as being not unlike the Frank Pick London Underground work of the 1930s. Information delivered in an eye-catching, contemporary, challenging way. Obviously, it was born from critical insights and knowledge of Parkinson’s and through the charity itself, who works with people affected by Parkinson’s and its debilitating nature on a daily basis. Work such as this is polarising, and if it gets a charity-hardened community such as ours talking – perhaps, even in a small way, it’s already working.

  • i can’t speak for every contributor, nor Parkinsons UK, nor even the venerable graham wood who contacted me in the first place, but what i can say generally about comments along the lines of astroboy’s, is that they tend to fall into the trap of judging work, or the efficacy of it, against their own subjective expectations based on personal perspectives – in this case a relatively heightened awareness and knowledge based on a family member with Parkinsons.
    For me, what we were asked to do was to raise general awareness of the lesser known symptoms and effects of a disease which for most of the general public simply manifests itself in older, more infirm people who can’t hold a cup of tea without spilling it, which, however unsavoury, especially to those affected directly or indirectly by the ongoing hideousness of Parkinsons, is comedy gold to generations raised on jack douglas et al in Carry On films. STOP! i’m not saying it is comedy gold for one minute BUT the point is that in a world of good causes and ‘event’ diseases, the creeping onset of Parkinsons, in the public eye, doesn’t provoke any urgency in dealing with it — maybe its something that for many seems a long way away.
    Everyone will have a different response to that point of view, so please lets not get bogged down in it. The point is that we, as designers — not doctors, not health workers — were asked to help raise awareness of Parkinsons, and the profile of Parkinson’s UK not just by shouting it louder, but by highlighting some of the more frightening manifestations of the disease which the majority of people don’t understand, or even know about.
    My personal response, and as such a genuine and valid response, to what experts call ‘Stand still’ was horror. A claustrophobic panic in response to a sentient rigor mortis which equates, to me — a member of the public — as an Edgar Allan Poe-esque buried alive scenario. As much as it pains me to come to terms with it, i’m not unique, so i can assume other people will have a similar response. i want people to look at my poster and get a sense of how such a frightening episode, no matter how temporary or permanent, might hit a sufferer, diagnosed or not, at any time. I want it to make the viewer think about the consequences and implications — what if it happened to them? — and hopefully as a result, they might find out significantly more, about the disease, and how to facilitate research and change, than any visual poster could hope communicate.
    This was a graphic design project looking to raise awareness through creative provocations and responses by key and profiled design practitioners, not doctors, to SUPPLEMENT the flow of medical, scientific and sociological information about the disease. Appreciate it as just that, and rather than fannying around debating the effectiveness of each communication, and whether each communicates everything that needs to be said, or whether it should even attempt to do so, against specific criteria and personal perspectives, i think its more constructive to applaud the initiative, or any initiative, to engage creative minds in helping to tackle worthwhile issues beyond selling fizzy drinks, sport shoes and dan dare walkie-talkies.
    Please don’t assume this constitutes a text of self-defence, i’m on the attack… hunting down those people who focus on the wood not the trees… File under ‘But how shall we fuck off, Lord’ 😉

  • john

    ANXETY? Research studios.

  • Jon

    As someone diagnosed with Parkinson’s in my early 40’s and who has spent the last few years coming to terms and learning to deal with many of the symptoms portrayed within the campaign i personally feel disappointed in this approach and have to ask myself how will it make other people and their families who live with this condition feel?

    It seems to me that far too much emphasis has been put into the ‘shock horror awareness’ aspect with very little thought about those it affects, in my opinion this could actually could undo the fantastic work already done by charities where they have helped people deal with their diagnosis and ongoing support where the message has always been its not the end of your life but you are going to have to make adjustments as the condition progresses.

    Raising awareness is vital in attracting to funding and looking for a cure but time will tell how this campaign is received and if it helps towards its goals but i fail to see how this empowers or instills belief and hope, instead it could end up making people fear diagnosis even more because their world is about to end as they enter their ‘worst nightmare – apparently’ It takes years to build a good reputation but a silly mistake to ruin it.

    This has made me very sad and angry but i wish you well and hope that my feelings are in the minority. Life goes on, good luck.

  • Paola

    I completely agree with Jon. I think that by focusing completely on the “horror” side of it the symptoms, the campaign has taken a completely negative approach. The way it was put is “parkinson is horror so if you or someone in your family have it, you’re damned, full stop”. It does not give any sense of hope and it does not help people empathize with the disease or the sufferers. The posters are beautiful and I think the designers did a great work following a brief. But I think the brief did not balance the message accordingly.

  • Jon—your question: “how will it make other people and their families who live with this condition feel?”

    as both a contributor and with familial experience of the condition the approach made me feel a deeper understanding of just how the sufferer is experiencing life with Parkinsons, and just how serious it really is.

    In my experience very few people have any notion of what a thing truly feels like until it happens to them. Experience, knowledge and understanding. Shared experience can engender empathy: a trigger for shared experience, no matter how removed from the actual experience itself it is, can galvanise at least a minimal, but meaningful, sense of compassion.

    And, as has been said, this campaign is about an aspect of the condition. How would one express the other side of the coin? That’s another aspect . . .

  • astroboy

    I don’t want to sound like a softy but I didn’t particularly enjoy the nightmare this campaign helped with about my Dad’s hopeless and horrific end to his life, Jayzuz. I mean its a pretty scare disease and shouldn’t be fodder for horror film poster designs.

    Patrick & Steve- I appreciate that this is part of Parkinson’s wider activity and I’m not denigrating the artistic talents of all of the talented designers. Unfortunately I had to skim through many of them because I didn’t really want to get bummed out with more taglines like ‘Sometimes Life Is A Fate Worse Than Death’. I’m not criticising the designers, just the shock-to-inform tactic seems horribly wrong.
    Maybe people unaffected by the disease might take it less sensitively if they aren’t already affected by the disease like Jon and I. I would be really interested to hear more about the feedback from the focus tests.

    Steve – I really dislike this attitude that if work gets people talking its effective. If the 2012 Olympic logo had been shaped like a golden turd and everyone vocally complained it doesn’t make it good or effective. I think designers can engage with a topic that critics like Creative Review can objectively review as being creatively informative, or communicative in a new, sensitive way or humanely relatable. I would argue that this campaign does not.

    Ian- It’s true that my perspective of the approach is sensitised by my personal involvement.
    And I understand the seriousness of the disease needs to be raised from being the light butt of comedy jokes.
    Whilst the creative interpretations of the symptoms may be truthful, how effective is the message and is their approach really going to have the intended affect?
    And with all due respect to your work, which I’m a long term fan of, I think just calling it a graphic design project dumbs down the importance of the disease, the campaign, the responsibility demanded from the client and designers and even Creative Review’s critical responsibility.

    I do applaud the engagement of creative minds in important issues but I didn’t think that’s a particularly new thing? I’m not criticising any of the creative work, just the strategy of trying to engage and inform people (who may already be avoiding the genuinely frightening issue) with horror. My dad is a healthcare practitioner who was too scared to get a self diagnosis for many months and still refuses to admit that he has such a frightening disease to our family even after surgery.

    But maybe people like Jon and I are just sensitive to such a personal issue. Maybe it will work as one aspect of a broader strategy. Time will tell, I just hope this doesn’t make people like my dad put off self diagnosis, self treatment and support for many more months.

  • Decimal

    My personal response is the approach of these posters is misjudged. I think the creative people involved did their jobs but the brief went a bit too far. For Ian’s information, I make my judgement “against [my] own subjective expectations based on personal perspectives” as a designer in the NHS.

    Charities will always have more leeway than the state to push the envelope, and should do, but I think this one has gone a bit too far. I think it could cause a bit of anxiety along the lines of what Jon says, above.

    It would be good to know what consultation Parkinsons UK did with NHS/Social Work. When British Heart Foundation did their striking Doubt Kills chest pain poster, they consulted GPs about increased demand (appointments did go up). I don’t expect the same result with these as there’s no ‘call to action’ or helpline (web address isn’t quite the same). Some NHS/Social Work staff may get the odd question but I think most people won’t express anything – just carry a bit of extra fear around with them with no real outlet. I know that’s very common in modern life but it saddens me, especially in this context. If it’s based on anything by Frank Pick then it’s missed the simple joy of a beautiful poster.

    Equally, it’s not the end of the world – if nothing else, it’s useful as a marker in the debate of ‘how far is too far’. I’m sure other Parkinsons UK publications are lovely but there’s no sign of them being put next to these posters. Maybe an example where a logo and a helpline/contact would’ve been a virtue, not a ‘necessary evil’ in design terms?

  • SP

    Like many here, I think the designs really are fantastic, but the overall message feels wrong.

    Scaring the shit out of people will not encourage them to tackle an issue, it will frighten them into not talking about it rather than not talking about it because they don’t know enough about it. The latter of which is a scenario you can tackle with much more ease, and what this brief should have really been about.

    I’ve been a massive advocate of charity communications in the last few years, as they seem to have moved away from a “feel sorry for insert-issue-here” tactic to a “fuck insert-issue-here” – the attitude has grown a backbone and has united far more people to help fight for causes rather than be guilt-tripped into action because they’ll feel bad if they don’t.

    However, I do fear this tactic will be a real backwards step. As I said, the posters are beautifully designed, but I don’t think they’ll encourage people to learn more about, and consequently help to fight, Parkinsons.

  • Cor, now there are some polarised viewpoints and no mistake … but better that than occupying the middle of the road.
    What do I think? I think they’re horrific, brutal, affecting, visceral, unpleasant and utterly wrong. This, incidentally, is how Parkinson’s makes me feel when the dystonia strikes, when I freeze, when I vanish from sight, when my brain plays tricks, when my hand sticks in my pocket, when I shuffle along the pavement feeling those behind me mocking the drunkard, when I can’t pack my shopping bags at the supermarket and the queue silently tuts …
    People will walk past these posters and quicken their step. Be aware that the person with Parkinson’s does not have this option.

  • G

    I think it was brave of Parkinson’s UK to try a different approach and try to get cut-through in a crowded sector, but I’m not convinced by the resulting work.

    In my opinion these could only get cut-through if I’m actively avoiding charity appeals and looking for 90’s styled horror posters and book covers, then, yes you’ve totally caught me unawares.

    I can’t see passers-by engaging and responding to these in isolated instances, not least as much of the content/copy is illegible (I know the point is to show the difficulty and range or symptoms but isn’t the ultimate goal for the public to respond, to act? I can’t engage if I can’t read or quickly connect what I’m looking at). I realise it’s one part of more communications for Parkinson’s but shouldn’t each element communicate individually?

    My biggest, and strongest reaction to the posters though is that many seem to say more about the designers than the disease. In my opinion Jonathan Barnbrook’s poster just looks like a Jonathan Barnbrook poster, not an awareness piece for Parkinson’s, I feel the same about Vaughan Oliver’s too. These and other designers seem to be just self-indulgent create-by-numbers and entirely lacking in consideration for the purpose of the piece.

    Also did Neville Brody really misspell ANXIETY?

  • PatrickBurgoyne

    I ought to explain that the spelling in the Brody poster is deliberate, an attempt to “unsettle and challenge the reader” apparently.
    As for the Barnbrook and Oliver posters looking like their typical style, this, as the piece explains, is what they were asked to do

  • Scott Woolston


    What, so when you’re diagnosed with Parkinsons you end up living in an indie horror movie?

    These are disgusting enough to make me angry. I think my Father-In-Law and next door neighbour who suffer with Parkinsons would be absolutely horrified by this absolute design w*nk. My goodness, I’m a designer, I love design w*nk but there’s a line. This is beyond abusive.

    Take a serious look at yourselves people. This is propper twoddle.

  • sarah

    Both my parents have Parkinson’s and I have to say I’m not impressed by these new adverts. If anything, they make the disease look intimidating to an outsider, as if it is something to fear, when in fact, educating people on how to spot someone with Parkinson’s and to offer to help them when things like freezing happens, would be a more empathetic and useful approach. If the aim of this is to get people to raise money for the charity, then again I’m not sure it is successful. The designs are good, but they don’t really inspire charitable feelings. More just one’s of misery and depression. A shame, as using fresh designers and doing away with the traditional approach to charity advertising was a really great concept.

  • Char

    I wish someone had challenged what is obviously (in hindsight maybe) a misguided brief.

    All too scary and isolating I’m afraid and most of the comments here back this up.

  • CG

    Is Parkinsons a New Band currently touring?!

    It’s just that…. Oh, I see Hmmm… I’m sure it was a good idea in concept, shame.

  • Geoff

    Most of the posters could be for the latest horror film; that old classic Psycho comes to mind. I don’t seem to be alone in that conclusion. If therefore the brief was to ‘Make Parkinson’s look like a nightmare’ or ‘…a living death’ then the designers have succeeded.
    If, however, the intention was to make the public sympathetic to the suffering this disease causes then unfortunately I have severe reservations.

  • Mark Pierce

    I agree with some of the comments that the examples may have over reached into the dark side of Parkinsons – missing the opportuity bridge the thinking to empathy. I found the executions to be artful and provocative interpretations – something that could (has) generate more dialog on the disease. What is lacking is a more dimensional or rounded visual communication that could address such things as the slow progression and loss, impact / interaction with loved ones supporting the afflicted, changing self identity, etc. It would be interesting to see the ‘story’ of Parkinsons brought to life (vs. the ‘demise’) to bring the public into the journey and understanding.

  • Matt E

    I am 45 and have had Parkinsons since I was eight years old – the best way to deal with Parkinsons is with humour and hope not horror! The designs are thought provoking but surely the future doesnt involve frightening people it involves getting people to work together and being positive!

  • Richard Reeve

    Shock tactics might be effective for public health campaigns – AIDS awareness 1986 must be the classic case – but so often verge on the unethical when used for fundraising campaigns. It’s not just guilt-tripping, there’s something seedy about it – victim porn you could say. Weird how children’s charities often fall down that hole.

    I’m a graphic designer who’s worked with charities for a long time. Not so much on fundraising material but lots of other areas. For me what works is to give people hope. Macmillan for example. To encourage people to act, persuade them something positive can be done.

    I’ve always felt a bit revolted by overblown, self-indulgent design/art which ‘gets off’ on serious issues deserving sensitivity. I remember being sickened by a Graham Harwood effort, he’d scanned the skin (most of it) of a murderer and put it on a CD (it was a long time ago) so you could creep very slowly around on it using cursor keys. I thought I must be somehow lacking, as designer peers seemed to think it was really cool.

    I do hope this thread attracts a little more response from the designers on this campaign to the sincere criticisms being voiced. Pete, 16.05 today above, now that’s communication. Good luck mate.

  • ken

    If this were a campaign for assisted suicide or euthanasia I would say well done. What you have done is a disservice for those with parkinsons and those who will be diagnosed with this disease.

  • sarah temple

    My Father has had Parkinsons disease for 23 years and these posters just made me feel very upset indeed. His pain, bravery and dignity are not present in these images. I do not recognise or understand anything of his experiences in these ridiculous images. It was not clear at all how any of these fit and able bodied designers felt confident enough to visualise something they have never experienced? Hallucination, living Rigor Mortis, Hell on Earth, the loneliest place….the copy writing is the very worst aspect of them. A very very bad idea.
    Why not get these guys to guess what homelessness or breast cancer feels like next? Sarah Temple

  • jean

    These posters are amazing and creative, but they are way too scary for Parkinson’s disease.

    How did it make me feel? Depressed, hopeless, helpless

    I have had PD for 11 years now.


  • dm

    this stuff is pretty dated.

  • RW

    I can understand some of the views expressed here. For those with PD, or those who know someone with PD the adverts are probably quite horrifying. However, most people think PD is just a shake, unaware of the psychological aspects of PD. Shock tactics? Maybe. But as a daughter whose Father has PD I think campaigns like this might help people see the bigger picture. The work of charities like Parkinson’s UK is amazing but most people skirt round the more silent issues like hallucinations and paranoia. PD is not just bradykinesia, tremors and rigidity, and I think this campaign is right to point it out. However, I think the adverts could have been more balanced by showing the fluctuation of PD, some days you may feel on top of the world despite being ‘ill’.

  • Matt

    I think this is the problem when you get Designers to answer a creative brief.

    Were no Creatives involved in this at all? Apart from the Flo of course but, his poster does look like something from 1996.

  • I have never before felt compelled to comment on articles online, but this has made me very disturbed and shocked.

    I have had Parkinson’s for 6 years and was diagnosed at 37. I have three young daughters who have grown up with the daily difficulties that having a parent with PD can generate. I have always been honest with them but continue to live as active a life as possible, and have always reassured them that life goes on with PD and my life is not over because of the symptoms or the side effects from the medications.

    With the help of our very supportive friends, my husband and I raised over £25,000 in 2008-2010 for Parkinson’s UK and am mystified and so disappointed that they have chosen to raise awareness of the condition in such a scary, frightening and depressive way. I find it hard to believe this will encourage anyone to become more interested and more accepting of PD and I truly hope my children and their friends never see these horrific adverts.

    My daughters hear so many unhelpful and factually incorrect comments about PD through the media and through conversation, and I have taken huge steps to ensure that fears about the future regarding my health and family life do not occupy our daily lives and fill us all with dread.

    These posters have the potential I believe to frighten people of all ages and I agree with many of the other comments made, that this campaign may cause the general public to alienate us further. Furthermore, it has the potential of terrifying children who know someone with the disease and adversely affecting the day to day lives of many young families who live with PD.

    Sadly, not one of your best moves Parkinson’s UK.

  • Adam

    Irrespective of how I feel about the designs, the thing that I find most interesting about this is the clients brief and outlook from a brand point of view.

    Given the viewpoint that the audience experience of a brand should ‘feel’ the same (and doesn’t have to look the same) it’s interesting that these feel so at odds with the wider visual identity and every recent communication I’ve seen—which I personally see as feeling very optimistic.

    These applications are obviously meant to be at the other end of the scale, but it then feels strange to quickly visit http://www.parkinsons.org.uk, or @ParkinsonsUK and again be faced with a really optimistic TOV.

    As mentioned in the article ‘given the charity¹s limited budgets’ it’s seems like a really bold (or strange?) move to turn their back (in these applications at least) on all the work (and presumably money) that has been invested to date to raise their profile and recognition, and create something that feels so opposite to everything else they do (and relatively anonymous). Something that I would imagine most people interested in branding would advise against (and perhaps this will prove everyone wrong).

    I’m certainly no expert on the charity sector, but I was under the impression that the visual identity from a few years ago was doing quite well (raised profile/TV appearances) and had a great deal of stand out, even if within a world of other ‘worthy charities’ and so it feels odd to depart from it fully (not even a logo).

    From a tactical point of view I’m also curious as to how the point of view that ‘anything that looked overtly like an ‘ad’ would make people switch off’ will pan out with these adverts, as whilst I agree there is always a danger of just ‘blending in’ these ad appear to require investigation; i.e to walk up to them and make a point of looking at them/reading them in order to understand the message (you don’t really grasp what they’re about from a quick glance as you walk past). This approach seems a little counter intuitive to my understanding of how the public view and interact with most advertising.

    I appreciate they are part of a wider comms initiative (which I’ll be interested to see) and I guess time will tell if they are a success.

    What will be really valuable though is how its success is measured, as if data is made available it will either be a great weapon for the creative trying to push brands to go further, or a great stick for client to beat their creative agencies with if they think work isn’t safe enough.

  • catherine oas

    While I admire the concept, which is supposedly to educate the public on what Parkinson’s Disease is (and after having carrying this burden for over 12 years now, I can identify with some of the ‘darkness’ of this hated disease,) I think the project might be more effective if you also included a positive solution.

    For example, ” trapped in your own body” /have you gotten out for a walk today?”

    or “Frozen in time”/lets sing together to help us move, etc

    or “depression-anxiety” (give me a hug, tell me you love me)

    It seems a bit less harsh to show PwPD in all stages, ages, working hard to achieve dignity and normalcy and quality of life…


  • Anne

    These are dark negative frightening and totally and utterly unnecessary. I spend my days encouraging the positive side of Parkinson’s to people as young as 30. They then see this hysterical propaganda and may as well throw themselves under a train. This won’t encourage people to learn more about Parkinson’s or donate to the charity. In my view PUK will less membership. Did anyone ask the people living with Parkinson’s their views before agreeing to this. There is no way I would display any of these for Parkinson’s awareness week in fear of frightening my patients. Is this a scare campaign rather than promotional.

  • Denise Hyde

    I have had Parkinson’s for 10 yeas now and if I saw these posters when I was first diagnosed I think I would have been very upset by them. Tell me had any of the people who created these posters got Parkinson’s or knew anybody with it. I am surprised at Parkinson’s UK I wonder what they think of the final creations. I think they are horrific and not very helpful. Parkinson’s is not a very nice thing to have and we all learn to live with it as best as we can. These posters do not help.

  • Rachel Clarke

    QUESTION : What is inflammation? is it: [1] Myra Hindley portrayed as a mosaic of children’s handprints , or [2] the installations by Jake and Dinos Chapman, which were of child mannequins with noses replaced by penises and mouths in the form of an anus, or is it [3] the damage my overactive immune system has done to my brain over twenty years?

    ANSWER [3] of course.

    Awareness of the many and various expressions of parkinson’s syndrome is the aim, to sensationalise is just a shame.


  • EB

    Wow! Nice artwork…….unfortunately the message is crapola.

    Scare mongering to raise awareness only results in the type of awareness that achieves absolutely nothing, so why do it?.

    It is all too reminiscent of the AIDS campaign featuring the Grim Reaper. Actually, I am surprised you didn’t use that idea.

    I am not saying Parkinsons is a walk in the park. I’ve been living with it for 10 years now, but your message here does not inspire, motivate or move me towards your charity. It does make me think that Parkinson’s UK does not actually understand Parkinsons fully.

    Your campaign is one of fear and I’m afraid you seem to have lost your way. Maybe focusing on the positive and providing a more balanced campaign would serve you better, instead of this one which doesn’t serve you at all.

    How much did you pay for this? It does make me wonder how carefully you spend the generous donations you receive and what decision process you must use that results in a YES to invest an expensive campaign such as this.

  • dolltearsheet

    As the daughter of someone with PD, I plan to show the campaign to my mother’s friends in the hope that they will have a new appreciation for my mother’s brave fight. On the other hand, I do not plan to show the campaign to my mother in the fear that it might be too dark. Litmus test? I’ve worked with some of the design teams represented and will always support connecting the creative dots in bold ways. I applaud Parkinson’s UK for taking the risk.

  • Flo Heiss

    I am I no place to comment on the overall effectiveness of the campaign, but I think this discussion thread is one of the best I have seen for a while. It’s very honest and constructive. And I for one have been following it closely with some trepidation, but also with great interest. You rarely get such a considered, honest and knowledgeable feedback on your own work.

    If this type of discussion about Parkinson’s continues outside the creative community that would be great.

    The criticisms of it being difficult to grasp what we look at is valid I think. I also think the posters work best if seen together, so that IS a problem when you walk past just one in isolation.

    Personally my design was arrived at very much with the involvement of my mother who has been suffering from Parkinson’s for the last 20 years. We had many uncomfortable, necessary and at times very silly discussions about her pottering about at 4am and how it affects her and by extension our lives. How her days shift and start earlier and earlier and how it leaves her feeling lonely. Hence the solitary figure on my poster. I feel the campaign represents unashamedly and bravely the horrors, yes, horrors that Parkinson’s holds and many people are perhaps unaware of.

  • marketing geek

    Oh I’m really sad about this. As the son of a sufferer, I was invited to share opinions on this campaign at the tissue stage and I am deeply saddened to see that it has pretty much been actioned as was

    I approach it from 2 perspectives – personal involvement and dispassionate marketeer. And either way, I get to the same conclusion. You can’t scare people into giving a shit. That world doesn’t exist anymore. This just feels like a backward step. We are bombarded with messages and are remarkably good at screening out what we don’t want to

    I am absolutely for challenging – but you don’t challenge by scaring. You challenge by being smart & clever. By portraying a familiar thing in an unfamiliar way. Like the campaign from 2012 did. But this doesn’t. This just terrifies

    And then on a final really marketing-wank point, the sheer lack of consistency between the posters means I fear that there will be almost no synergy between executions. There are zero consistent reference points – so frankly I seriously doubt the ability to cut through as every execution looks like a different campaign

    I really hope I am wrong – and I will be the 1st to hold my hands up if i am – but sadly I just don’t believe I will be

    My biggest fear is that those suffering, who have felt supported by Parkinsons UK up to this point, don’t end up feeling betrayed by this brutal, dark and frankly hopeless portrayal of a disease, that is completely at odds with the core message that Parkinsons UK bring – which is one of hope that a cure is in sight

  • Poisonthesalt

    Wasted opportunity. Real problem faced by real humans everyday reduced to empathy-free graphic w&*kery.

  • adolf witzeling

    In my opinion the posters communicated one thing very well: Horror. I don’t agree with this approach to bring awareness and better understanding to such a serious illness- not by pushing the fear button. We need to learn to deal with an illness as serious a Parkinson’s, treat patients who show symptoms bring public awareness and NOT horror. We need to encourage those who think they might have it, to seek help and also educate about treatment options. If the motto of the posters exhibition would have been “Psycho III” this would have been an excellent lineup for potential movie posters-Don’t get me wrong, the posters are executed beautifully, I just think they missed their true purpose. Just my two cents worth. I might have to add that neither in my family or someone I personally know was ever diagnosed with Parkinson’s.

  • Erin

    What people with Parkinson’s need is a positive attitude and drive to contiue… not these horror-movie-esque posters. While I admire the actual design, I really cannot believe the message. I am a close relative of someone with Parkinson’s: I have grown up around the disease. And although it is horrible, these posters are not doing anything productive in my opinion.

  • C

    A lot of what’s written here sounds like sour grapes and gripes…Why would people from Parkinson’s bother wasting their time writing their opinions on a design site for other designers to read ? …Swearing also shows lack of imagination. I would imagine that none of the contributors got paid for this campaign – how much are you paid for the charity work you do? And the designers/directors themselves keep saying – this is one aspect of a bigger picture.
    There’s one very valid opinion here – Pete 16.05.
    These posters caught my eye – whether they are good or bad it was enough for me to ‘find out’ about the condition.
    My best friends father had died a few months prior to a symptom of Parkinson’s. I didn’t know anything about it, other than you get tremors and Michael J Fox has it. I now know that he (friends dad) got the ‘freezing’ symptoms of Parkinson’s – getting back from a walk, falling over outside his own house and being there long enough for hypothermia set in and not be able to scream for help. Truly sad and preventable. He had a few years left in him as a father, a husband and friend to many people.
    Had a neighbour known the symptoms – like I do now . . .

  • C

    A lot of what’s written here sounds like sour grapes and gripes…Why would people from Parkinson’s bother wasting their time writing their opinions on a design site for other designers to read ? …Swearing also shows lack of imagination. I would imagine that none of the contributors got paid for this campaign – how much are you paid for the charity work you do? And the designers/directors themselves keep saying – this is one aspect of a bigger picture.
    There’s one very valid opinion here – Pete 16.05.
    These posters caught my eye – whether they are good or bad it was enough for me to ‘find out’ about the condition.
    My best friends father had died a few months prior to a symptom of Parkinson’s. I didn’t know anything about it, other than you get tremors and Michael J Fox has it. I now know that he (friends dad) got the ‘freezing’ symptoms of Parkinson’s – getting back from a walk, falling over outside his own house and being there long enough for hypothermia set in and not be able to scream for help. Truly sad and preventable. He had a few years left in him as a father, a husband and friend to many people.
    Had a neighbour known the symptoms – like I do now . . .

  • NT

    I’ve stumbled across this blog while researching creative activities for people with Parkinson’s.
    I actually thought I’d misread that Parkinson’s UK were involved in this, as the message is so overwhelmingly disturbing. As a charity that supports people with Parkinson’s there is a responsibililty to communicate in a sensitive and thoughtful way, not to confirm people’s worst fears about living with PD.

    The whole ‘living death’ idea and ‘suffering’ is quite dated in terms of how charities address their causes – e.g. dementia friends campaign is all about challenging those negative assumptions about living with dementia and showing that people can live well with dementia. The same should be true for PD – people can and do live with it, not simply suffer from it.

    I feel Parkinson’s UK should confirm how much in donations was spent on this campaign and also estimate how much has been generated by it.

    I agree with some previous comments that the text on the posters is actually so hard to work out that most people would simply pass by assuming they were film posters. Asthetcially the posters are strong, but as art/film posters.

    As a Parkinson’s UK member I’ll be interested to see if this makes it into the quarterly magazine members receive. Although in some ways I really hope it doesn’t…

  • Ken Wilson

    For me the fault here is not so much with the designers, in whom I sense sincerity and empathy, as with the medium. A poster can be a potent vehicle for a direct and ‘ruthlessly’ edited message (as the work of the late lamented Paul Peter Piech demonstrates) but is inadequate to a complex and subtle task such as this, which would perhaps be more effectively unfolded over time (and even then would surely be a major challenge).

    A poster is too coarse, too abbreviated — the visual equivalent of a sound-bite — to encapsulate and transmit, even partially, the human devastation of such an affliction. But perhaps you have to try it to discover that.

  • Unit36

    These are truly inspirational and really portray the subject area extremely well. They conceptualise this sensitive topic in ways that provoke ones senses and feelings. Nice article.