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Ad Lib blog

Creative critiques of pharma and healthcare ads and campaigns

Emotional Intelligence

Emma Price wants nothing less than an emotional reaction. One campaign passes this litmus test, but one doesn’t…

Yesterday, I found my nine-year-old son hooked into the computer (again) with my visa card in hand (I kid you not) ordering essential kit for a boy about to embark puberty (so he informs me). He was flapping around with such urgency I thought that puberty had started… last night!

He apparently needed some well-known branded deodorant that promised to change its fragrance throughout the day. His life would not be complete without it.

In the absence of body hair (his) I declined but it made me think if pharma advertising could ever reach the dizzy heights of consumer advertising, of evoking such emotional reaction...

Well, I'm not quite sure actually. When I look at pharma ads I try and gauge an emotional reaction – that's if the layout leaves any space after the headline, logos and heavy client body copy takes a hold.

As for consumer advertising – where an instant emotional engagement is crucial – our key objective in pharma is to change the long-term prescribing behaviour of our audience, rather than secure that immediate buy-in.

Creating effective pharma advertising is about generating a feeling, a flicker of emotion that will not just make the HCP think that a 2 per cent efficacy improvement will make their life easier (curing patients, decreasing workload, etc) but feel the resonating message enough to strike a chord with the needs of the patient.

Even with given stodgy corporate images, we can at least add a bit of personality in the art direction and execution.

Xifaxanta – Norgine



Xifaxanta – Norgine

Agency: DNA Healthcare

Believe it or not, but doctors are actually human and after a surgery full of moaning patients, it may be a cheap trick but this ad has stopping power even if it’s based on pure escapism in between dealing with cancer and itchy feet.

But who cares – the HCP has stopped and is now reading the copy! Shame about the clumsy jet ski wave superimposed on the watery ‘intestine’ but I get it.

The headline is clean, simple and direct with a strong promise and minimal fuss. Well done for resisting the temptation of smothering the sea with body copy. My only ‘gripe’ would be to knock the supporting copy line down a font size of two but all said, on message and has the pull-in power.

Decapeptyl – Ipsen



Decapeptyl – Ipsen

Agency: Life Healthcare

No matter how hard I try, I can’t engage with a gold hand, even shaped as a number 6. The key ‘6 month’ message is repeated four times on the page, so I can guess what the key benefit must be, but with the second listed copy line as being ‘reduction in appointment and practice workload’, it’s obviously struggling for impactful key features.

The obligatory global patient picture and pack shot are shoehorned in and indication is embedded deeply in the copy.

NiQuitin – GSK




NiQuitin – GSK

Agency: TBWA

Pharma ads are notorious for featuring static models shot ‘mid-action’. This ad must take the biscuit for the party with the least atmosphere. Even the balloons look bored. Maybe the art director could have added some more movement apart from the models opening their mouths.

Nice, clear strapline and layout but there’s so much more that can be done with this. It could be so much cooler, with imaginative execution to maintain the cheesiness even within the branding guidelines.

For once, a pack shot would be nice differentiating it from the rest of the growing Nicorette range. Most brands aren’t constructed on two-dimensional product features but on their implications and relevance to patients’ lives.

Article by
Emma Price

account director, b more creative

18th July 2012


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