Johnson & Johnson

Driving awareness for why representation in medical illustrations matter


  • Campaign Strategy
  • Design
  • Animation
  • Event strategy and materials
  • Video production

The need

In 2021, a drawing of a black fetus by an illustrator of color went viral on social media and highlighted the need for more equity when it comes to medical images.

Johnson & Johnson approached NationSwell to help them bring to life a new initiative – Illustrate Change – aimed at addressing the fact that only 5% of medical illustrations portray dark skin. 

This stark lack of diversity in medical illustrations is just one manifestation of the deep and widespread racial inequities that are built into our healthcare system. In science and medicine white bodies have been the default around which standards and norms have been based, in everything from dummy models, to textbooks, to clinical studies and trials. And that lack of representation has a detrimental impact on BIPOC communities’ trust of the healthcare system, and their access to quality care.

Studies have shown that patients of color seek out medical providers who look like them, that patients of color have historically experienced trauma within the medical field which creates mistrust, and that the lack of diversity within medical spaces generates feelings of isolation and a lack of ability to advocate for oneself amongst BIPOC healthcare professionals. More representation in medical illustrations is one step towards a future where your health and experience with the medical field is not determined by the color of your skin. 

The action

Illustrate Change is a collaborative initiative between Johnson & Johnson, Deloitte, the Association of Medical Illustrators and Chidiebere Ibe — focused on building a growing library of BIPOC medical images. NationSwell developed the activation strategy to launch the initiative, focusing on connecting people to the human stories represented by the illustrations, through events and content.

NationSwell worked with the partners to bring to life a launch activation at Aspen Ideas Health Festival, and developed three patient-focused videos that allowed the illustrations to ‘step off the page’ — telling the human stories of how the illustrations make a difference to different people as they navigate their healthcare journey. We animated the four stories — from first-time mom looking for reassurance during pregnancy to an abuela dealing with a skin irritation — and used them to draw a wide audience online and at different medical schools and conferences around the country, allowing them to connect the dots between the academic process of building an illustration library and the difference this makes on the lives of individuals, and in addressing one of the key strands of racial inequity that is embedded in the current healthcare system.

The work launched in person at Aspen Ideas Festival – Health Week and Cannes Lions International Festival as well as online, with vocal support from senior leadership across Johnson & Johnson. In the first few weeks, the launch led to millions of  impressions leading back to, hundreds of downloads of diverse illustrations, and high profile earned media.

The impact

2024 Silver Anthem Award Winner


Building the world’s largest diverse medical illustration library

Earned media reaching millions including on Good Morning America

700+ downloads of diverse illustrations in first week

1500+ in person visits at launch events




Aspen Ideas Health Festival

Aspen Ideas Health Festival

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