Well before the boom of direct-to-consumer pharmaceutical advertising, and the host of problems that came with it, drug advertising was aimed almost exclusively at physicians. Designers were charged with describing and dramatizing a drug’s effectiveness in highly abstract terms, since the product’s physical shape and form were largely irrelevant to its promotion. Some of the most artistically progressive design of the 1950s and 60s emerged from this highly specialized area; design pioneers Herb Lubalin, Will Burtin, and Chermayeff & Geismar all did work for pharmaceutical firms.
James McMullan illustrated a series of haunting brochures for Roche Laboratories (a division of the Swiss company Hoffman – La Roche) advertising the promise of Taractan, an anti-psychotic medication. They feature a collage of photography and illustration, and beautifully capture a mood of isolation and confusion.
In a future post I’ll highlight the brilliant work of Chermayeff & Geismar for Ciba.