The Gallery of Modern Malaise 

The UK’s number 1 best-selling topical pain relief brand, Mentholatum, needed to revamp their traditional media briefing, and sought out Sophisticated Comms’ strategy for a breath of fresh air.

In previous years, the client engaged fitness experts to lead low-impact yoga and stretching classes to showcase their over-the-counter range of topical analgesics.

These events were scheduled yearly, but rarely drew many journalists, and those who attended seldom seemed to follow up with further interest in the products.

The Assessment:

  • The traditional event experience was ineffective, formulaic and in need of a complete update
  • Journalists were unlikely to have the uniform level of fitness in order to participate in a group class, and proposing that they do alongside professional competitors could discourage attendance and diminish interest in the brand
  • A gift bag of OTC products was inadequate incentive for attendance
  • The pace of journalistic output has dramatically increased as a result of social media, thus journalists rightly expect access to exclusive, multi-faceted stories in exchange for attendance and coverage

The Strategy:

Create a Pop-Up Event to Highlight New Audiences for Established Remedies

Working alongside PR, we developed a creative concept that would playfully demonstrate the product ranges’ application for multiple less-obvious demographics.

To convey issues related to sedentary lifestyles and the convenience of ‘In-App entertainment,’ we conceptualised and oversaw the execution of an immersive theatre piece The Mentholatum Gallery of Modern Malaise, inspired by Turner-nominated artist Tracey Emin’s 1999 work My Bed, and paired with the presence of health and fitness influencers.

Photo by cottonbro on

Tinderitis (TIN-der-nite-us): an inflammation of the wrist joint, co-occurring with pain in the neck and lower back. The result of spending hours hunched over a smartphone swiping through potential online dates.

Members of the PR team (clad in the standard uniform of all-black) were instructed to behave as gallerists so as to convey key points of the press release as the intentions behind the installations. Influencer and personal trainer Faisal Abdalla and London physiotherapist Sammy Margo were seamlessly integrated into the creative concept.

Invitations were sent in the form of a Dadaist missive, and upon arrival, journalists (who included the Daily Mail, The Telegraph and BBC Radio 4 among others) were welcomed sombrely by the team, and offered champagne – though the team acknowledged that, regrettably, such luxuries could never wash away the inescapable melancholy of modern life.

Catering afforded another opportunity to reiterate the health concerns associated with the convenience of delivery meals – so to heighten the experience we created 3 different takeaway containers branded with ‘Modern Malaise.’

Through this approach, we were able to reallocate resourcing and find a solution to the age-old paradox: one must have food available at events, however it is never eaten.

Once the concept had been firmly established, the influencers ‘broke the fourth wall’ by stepping into installations to present and engage with the actors whilst providing demonstrations for journalists.

[Sophisticated Comms] emails are always entertaining.

— Francesca White, TATLER

[Sophisticated Comms] is always able to offer up a fresh and newsworthy interpretation

— Alice Hart-Davis, Journalist, Author and Founder of The Tweakments Guide