Doctors and All Blacks: How depression and its treatment is framed in New Zealand GP-targeted advertising


  • Susan Edith Wardell University of Otago



advertising, clinical encounter, discourse analysis, representational practices, framing theory, semiotics, General Practitioners, depression, anti-depressant drugs


Depression, and the treatment of depression is a complex and multifaceted issue, and part of how it is understood and managed by doctors is shaped by print advertising with specific corporate sources and sponsors. This study uses a framing analysis, with attention to semiotics and discourse, to identify the way which depression, depression treatment, and the clinical encounter are framed in New Zealand GP-targeted media. It focuses on two pharmaceutical advertisements (Avanza & Efexor-XR) and one public health campaign (‘The Journal’) running concurrently in NZ Doctor magazine and MIMS New Ethicals, also paying attention to relevant editorial material. Competing frames are identified within these media publications around the biochemical versus psychosocial models of mental illness. The use of former All Black John Kirwan as spokesperson for The Journal contrasts with more typical western feminizations of depression, but nevertheless relates to other New-Zealand-specific cultural stereotypes by linking male mental health specifically with self-help rather than professional treatment. While mirroring the ‘Green Prescription’ movement and seeming to empower patients, The Journal also relies on and reinforces the discourse of the authority of the medical profession to legitimate the treatment process.

Author Biography

Susan Edith Wardell, University of Otago

PhD Candidate Departments of Anthropology & Archaeology & Media, Film and Communication




How to Cite

Wardell, S. E. (2013). Doctors and All Blacks: How depression and its treatment is framed in New Zealand GP-targeted advertising. Sites: A Journal of Social Anthropology and Cultural Studies, 10(2), 52–81.