GlaxoSmithKline’s Excedrin draws on young influential artists to illustrate pain in new #MYgraine campaign

Stina Aleah, a photo-realistic portrait artist, creates art showing how her migraine "cut across" her temple for GSK's #MYgraine awareness campaign. (GSK Consumer Healthcare)

GlaxoSmithKline is calling on young influencer artists who suffer from migraine. The request? Interpret migraine pain through makeup, hair and art creations for its #MYgraine campaign to reach young undiagnosed sufferers.

The social media effort launches today with four well-known artists, including a Los Angeles celebrity makeup artist, a special effects specialist, a drag artist and a photo-realist portrait artist. Each creation—dramatic make-up accents or a stunning self-portrait—is a personal visualization of the artist's migraines.

The GSK Consumer Healthcare #MYgraine campaign wants to reach young undiagnosed migraine sufferers who may be suffering similar types of pain. Its goal is to break the “migraine diagnosis gap”—an average of six years between when pain begins and a doctor formally diagnoses them.

“Excedrin is on a mission to help shrink that migraine diagnosis gap by helping people to understand early symptoms and reduce that six years of basically unexplained pain and disorientation and anxiety,” Rishi Mulgund, GSK’s Excedrin brand director, said.

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The visually stunning images are running on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram "to raise awareness and make an impact for first-time migraine sufferers so no one feels alone." A TikTok Live session later this month will focus on the first symptoms of migraine.

The effort also encourages other sufferers to post their own stories and images with the #MYgraine hashtag.

Jamie Greenberg, known for her red-carpet styling of actresses—including Tracee Ellis Ross, Kristen Stewart and Elisabeth Moss—used a thermal highlighter along with light fragments around her eyes to show the “pulsing, burning feeling” she gets around her head.

Another artist, Annie Thomas, created a black-and-white optical illusion-type swirl emanating from one eye, explaining, “My migraines are exclusively on the left side of my head, causing vision loss and dizziness.”

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More than 39 million people in the U.S. are affected by migraines and more than 1 billion worldwide, making it the third most prevalent illness in the world, according to the Migraine Research Foundation. 

"By showing through social media, people are able to say 'oh that's something I get' and they're able to recognize their symptoms," Mulgund said, adding that "visual expression is really important for this younger audience."

Young women especially, beginning at an average age of 16, will experience a first migraine attack but may not know what it is. The sooner they seek a proper diagnosis from a doctor, the sooner they can start managing the episodes, he said.