September #39 : Vertex Vortex - by Gabi Horn

POZ - Health, Life and HIV
Subscribe to:
POZ magazine
Join POZ: Facebook MySpace Twitter Pinterest
Tumblr Google+ Flickr MySpace
POZ Personals
Sign In / Join

Back to home » Archives » POZ Magazine issues

Table of Contents

Talking 'Bout Their Generation

Youth to Youth

Bargaining Power

Growing Up in Public

Liver Worst

Family Tree

Blood Lines


To the Editor

And on the 7th Day...

In the Sack

Vertex Vortex

Pump and Grind

Baby Gap

You Can’t Touch This

Aloe Can You Go?

Death by Bureaucracy

Bubonic Tonic

Say What

Say What

All Apologies

Plenty of Nothing

Rough Cuts

POZ Picks

Spin and Needles

No Miss Manners

HIV Confidential

Making a Scene


Presidential Nemesis

Are the Kids Alright?

Kid Gloves

Prime-Time Lives

Don’t Make Me Over

Confessions of a Jerk

Life Lessons

Quality Time

Valuable Kitchen Tool

Better Safe Than Sushi

The Heart of the Matter

To C or Not to C

The Circle Game

Youth on Drugs


Making the Grade

Finger on the Pulses

Fountain of Youth

Where to find it

Reality Check


Most Popular Lessons

The HIV Life Cycle


Herpes Simplex Virus

Syphilis & Neurosyphilis

Treatments for Opportunistic Infections (OIs)

What is AIDS & HIV?

Hepatitis & HIV

email print

September 1998

Vertex Vortex

by Gabi Horn

Drug ads steal activist thunder

A small-fry drug company, Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc., had folks scratching their heads last spring with the launch of a new ad campaign. With ads that screamed “Selling Hope Is Easy in an Epidemic,” was Vertex slamming its own industry or exploiting AIDS activism?

The posters, wheatpasted nationwide alongside pitches for Levi’s and Lilith Fair, looked more like the guerrilla activist art of yesteryear than glossy, corporate drug-company slicks. (One even featured ACT UP’s “Silence=Death” symbol, and another appropriated the NAMES quilt.) Bart Henderson, Vertex’s director of marketing, said they “are meant to get people talking about issues in the epidemic, such as the need to push beyond the status quo to develop better drugs.”

“It’s inappropriate [for drug companies] to corrupt activist symbols,” countered ACT UP/New York’s John Riley. While the ads may appear activist-driven, he said, “they make activism look like a con job. [Vertex] is playing both sides of the fence.”

But Spencer Cox, of the Treatment Action Group, an ACT UP offspring, doesn’t see the beef: “The ads are snappy. They establish personal connections which contradict faceless conglomerates.” Vincent Gagliostro, co-creator of ACT UP/NY demo and street graphics in the ’80s, said, “ACT UP images don’t belong to anybody. Vertex probably thinks they’re doing something worthwhile with them.”

And the company does. “Using symbols from the community is, in a sense, a gift to the public,” Vertex’s Henderson said. “They express the depth of the epidemic.” As for the slogan “Ambition Will Cure AIDS Before Compassion,” Gagliostro said: “I agree. How many people do we need running around with red ribbons? Wouldn’t you rather have money-hungry drug companies working for a cure?”

Although Vertex modestly announced in its print ads, “We do not have a cure,” the company is “working feverishly” with Glaxo Wellcome on a new protease inhibitor, amprenavir (141W94), currently in Phase III trials.  

[Go to top]

Facebook Twitter Google+ MySpace YouTube Tumblr Flickr Instagram
Quick Links
Current Issue

HIV Testing
Safer Sex
Find a Date
Newly Diagnosed
HIV 101
Disclosing Your Status
Starting Treatment
Help Paying for Meds
Search for the Cure
POZ Stories
POZ Opinion
POZ Exclusives
Read the Blogs
Visit the Forums
Job Listings
Events Calendar
POZ on Twitter

Ask POZ Pharmacist

Talk to Us
Has a pet helped you deal with your HIV?


more surveys
Contact Us
We welcome your comments!
[ about Smart + Strong | about POZ | POZ advisory board | partner links | advertising policy | advertise/contact us | site map]
© 2016 Smart + Strong. All Rights Reserved. Terms of use and Your privacy.
Smart + Strong® is a registered trademark of CDM Publishing, LLC.