PHAR-MA-COG-NO-SY: The study of medicines derived from natural sources as well as the search for new drugs from natural sources.

Problem: Because of the name confusion, member acquisition was falling and ultimately causing the great work of pharmacognosists to go unnoticed.

Situation: We needed to find a way to shed light on the field of pharmacognosy to increase ASP's membership numbers.

Key Finding: ASP members are modern day explorers. Except they ask what's in there instead of what's out there.

Strategy: Making the invisible, visible.

Like all great explorers, a pharmacognosist's mission is to show the world something that's never been seen before.

Creative Concept: Art meets Science

By combining the skills of artists and scientists, the work of pharmacognosists can be displayed in a way all can appreciate.


PHASE I: THE REBRAND The first thing we did was rebrand and rename the organization. We learned that even among current members, the term "pharmacognosy" was falling out of fashion. We polled the whole organization and a majority said they were pro a new name. Our focus for the name was to eliminate confusion and also to encapsulate the many fields of expertise among the current members.

Thus, The Natural Science League. 

We kitted out all the current members with membership cards. We envisioned these cards carrying benefits and discounts when making purchases that aid their research. Current member retention was not a problem, but this was our way to add value for current members.

One of the main perks of a rebrand is new swag. But this wasn't swag for swag-sake. This was purposeful swag. Each year, the ASP (now NSL), has a conference and every material provided to conference go-ers would aid them in their jobs. Passport covers for their travels, glasses holders, iPad/iPhone covers...whatever they were using in their research, we created an NSL branded piece to help with that.

PHASE II: THE CATALYST INITIATIVE After the rebrand, we focused our efforts on member acquisition. Through interviews with current members, we discovered that a majority of them didn't find out about ASP until graduate school. Well, that's a problem. That's a much smaller pool of potential members than undergraduate students in science concentrations. So we wanted to focus our outreach campaign to these undergraduate students. But how do we engage them?

A medical chemist is an artist.”
— Rami Al-Horani, Ph.D Senior Project Scientist at 
Institute for Structural Biology 
and Drug Discovery, VCU

We would engage them by playing to their exploratory and artistic nature. This quote really helped set us down our creative path. The rich material that the combination of art and science produces inspired us.  

So using our "Art meets Science" creative strategy, these print ads were produced with the purpose of being displayed in the student commons and student newspapers of select campuses.

PHASE III: LECTURE SERIES AND EXPEDITIONS We needed to give new recruits an action to take. We couldn't just introduce them to the organization and leave it at that. So we created a lecture series and expedition series for them to participate in. 

The lecture series would be on-line so that students could learn from scientists all across the globe.

Then in the same vein as the Alternative Spring Break program, we created an Expedition series for curious students. Groups of students would be matched up with current NSL members and travel to remote areas to study and learn. The unique piece of our program was that artists and photographers would go along as well.

The artists and photographers would capture the work of the students and members. Making the once invisible work, visible.

After the expeditions, the creative pieces these artists produce would be put on display in a traveling art gallery. The traveling art gallery would be displayed on the same select campuses from the initial outreach. We'd run out of home pieces at bus stops, malls, student commons, etc. to promote the gallery. 

With the traveling art gallery, we made the once invisible work of NSL members, visible. While our focus of the campaign was to recruit new members from undergraduate programs, these galleries seamlessly integrated us into the public space, adding more visibility to the great work of NSL members.

Catalyst Phase 3 Gallery.jpg