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Ad Lib blog

Creative critiques of pharma and healthcare ads and campaigns

E-patient connections: Streets of Philadelphia

This time 700 ice sculptures hit the mark in Xavier Sanchez’s view. Three e-campaigns have caught his eye…

I am not sure if it is because one of the most cinematically famous patients – a credible Tom Hank stigmatised by AIDS – lived on its streets or because of its undeniable charm as a city, but from September 20-21 Philadelphia hosted this year's e-Patients Connections event. The publicity suggested that it would help attendees 'learn to reach' and 'engage with patients'. There was talk too, of 'caregivers' and 'e-empowered consumers'.


So, what did the event actually tell us about? Presentation topics included: Connecting Consumers to the Next Generation of Health and Wellness Tools; ePatients are Talking, and Pharma is Listening: How Innovative Social Media Monitoring Tools Foster Understanding, and another had the more enigmatic title of Elephants can Dance and and Hippos Can Limbo in which we heard how markets can force quite profound change upon industries.


All very interesting but the important question is... who IS the patient today? A real or virtual one? Is it a person – or in our world of e-communications, is it a profile we create to suit the applications for our drug?


If we are communicationg with our audiences as e-patients, how do we reach them? How do we tap into their 'e-soul' or get their e-smile… or indeed, share their e-hug? Probably the challenge for healthcare communications in the future will be how to shift from emotions to e-motions without losing the essence of our work. Well, but it is just an e-thought, talking of which…

Virtual Patient Concierge at CarcinoidLink



This is an engaging idea – and one that gets away from the common Q&A approach to educate patients. The user just clicks on the healthcare specialist they want to question – from oncology nurse to social worker.


My only concern is… who chose the furniture and the carpet? The same concept, but given something of an IKEA makeover in terms of style would work much better.

700 Lives. Ice sculptures



Emotional and overwhelmingly touching, the 700 Lives installation by Bungalow 25 will make you think twice about skipping sunscreen. Simple, effective and focused on the message, this viral campaign is really liquid in social media (and I don’t just mean a play on the word ‘ice’ of course).


In Madrid alone, melanoma claims 700 lives every year. Bungalow 25 brought together a crew of talented artists to create 700 realistic ice sculptures, which lined the streets of Madrid only to become subjected to the blistering Spanish heat - the dripping sculptures becoming a potent metaphor.

The Strange Powers of the Placebo Effect



While it’s neither an ad nor a campaign, I wanted to include this piece of work as it’s a nice way to explain science without becoming boring…


Described as reporter and curator of the curious and creative, Australian science reporter, Daniel ‘Professor Funk’ Keogh illustrates the strange powers of the placebo effect in this animated video. It certainly got people talking, whether about the placebo effect or the video.


Article by
Xavier Sánchez

Founder and creative director, UMBILICAL (Spain)

16th November 2011


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