Short List
Category A09. Creative Data Collection & Research
Idea Creation ÅKESTAM HOLST Stockholm, SWEDEN
Media Placement ÅKESTAM HOLST Stockholm, SWEDEN
Production BKRY Stockholm, SWEDEN
Post Production BKRY Stockholm, SWEDEN
Name Company Position
Martin Noreby Åkestam Holst NoA Art Director
Simon Lublin Åkestam Holst NoA Copywriter
Joakim Khoury Åkestam Holst NoA Art Director
Rickard Beskow Åkestam Holst NoA Copywriter
Michal Sitkiewicz Åkestam Holst NoA Art Director
Magnus Jakobsson Åkestam Holst NoA Creative Director
Lina Engler Åkestam Holst NoA Account Director
Linda Bryttmar Åkestam Holst NoA Account Manager
Jennie Strinnhed Åkestam Holst NoA Account Manager
Karl Wikström Åkestam Holst NoA Strategist
Digge Zetterberg Odh NoA PR Director

Why is this work relevant for Creative Data?

Pharmaceutical factories that pollute the environment in manufacturing countries is a huge problem. But the industry denies it and the public aren’t aware of it. That’s why there’s no demand for politicians to introduce stricter environmental laws. In order to highlight the problem, we collected water in the world's biggest manufacturing city, analyzed it and extracted the active substances. The new medicine, all the data and the full lab report was used in an integrated campaign to get people's attention and get politicians to act.


Hyderabad in India is the world’s biggest manufacturing site for medicine. More than 50% of India’s global exports of medicine are produced here, and make up the major share of medicine imported to the US, Europe and Sweden – our home market. But due to lack of environmental oversight, many factories in Hyderabad still dump their waste straight into nature. Which means the medicine we take for our health in Sweden and other wealthy countries is actively making people sick and polluting the environment in parts of the world struggling with bigger inequalities. Apotek Hjärtat, Sweden’s biggest privately owned pharmacy, has been working actively with sustainability since the start in 2010. In 2019 we decided to do our part in making pharmaceuticals more sustainable, and make sure the medicine we sell doesn’t harm others, even though it meant going against our own industry.

Describe the Creative idea / data solution (20% of vote)

A Hard Pill To Swallow made data actionable by turning it into a pill. We collected 100 liters of water near the pharmaceutical factories in Hyderabad. In collaboration with one of Sweden’s most outstanding laboratories, RISE (Research Institutes of Sweden), we then analyzed the water and extracted the active substances, resulting in a completely new kind of medicine: Sordidum Pharmacum - a deadly cocktail extracted from pharma polluted water. The new ”medicine” was used in an integrated campaign aimed at opening the eyes of the general public and putting pressure on politicians in Sweden and the EU. The data from the analysis was published in a report that was downloaded over 10 000 times. The campaign was supported by a nationwide survey. We also sent the pills to politicians with a package insert showing the data breakdown, encouraging them to add sustainability as a criteria for national pharmaceutical procurement.

Describe the data driven strategy (30% of vote)

The data was originally gathered in water containers. The data at the core of our campaign came from the river water from Hyderabad, which we brought home to Sweden for an independent analysis from the prestigious RISE laboratories (Research Institutes of Sweden). Much as expected, they found active substances from medicines for fungal infections, hypertension, opiates for pain relief, epilepsy, cancer and HIV. This data formed the core of the campaign. We also supported the analysis of the river water with a national consumer survey, showing that 8 out of 10 Swedes wanted clearer information on how different medications affected the environment, and that over 3 out of 4 would choose another medicine if they found out their original choice was more harmful to the environment. Using this data, we could mobilize the general public, and put pressure on politicians to change laws.

Describe the creative use of data, or how the data enhanced the creative output (30% of vote)

The creative use of data consisted of packaging our data analysis of the polluted water into a new type of medicine - Sordidum Pharmacum. By turning our research data into a pollution pill, we could create emotional engagement around our findings, and use them to mobilize the general public. The interplay of data and creative - in everything from the campaign site to the special package inserts we designed - created a striking mix of emotion and credibility, enabling us to get wide coverage and support from trusted sources in the world of medicine and environmental politics.

List the data driven results (20% of vote)

The campaign received heavy coverage in Swedish news, was seen by 1/3 of the population, drove 1 in 10 Swedes to visit the campaign site and generated 10 000 downloads of the report. Back in India, it was covered by the world’s second largest English newspaper - The Times of India. But more importantly, it changed things. The campaign led to all major Swedish pharmacies launching a shared label for sustainable pharmaceuticals, based on Apotek Hjärtats original label. Two of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies have contacted Apotek Hjärtat to see what they need to change to receive the label. A new law will soon be passed in the Swedish parliament demanding stricter environmental criteria when procuring pharmaceuticals. By turning pollution into a pill we made the problem real enough for people to react and politicians to act, and revealed the problems hidden under the surface of the pharmaceutical world.