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Ad Lib blog

Creative critiques of pharma and healthcare ads and campaigns

Loud and clear

Patrick Norrie asks whether communications ideas go far enough to capture interest and engage

I'm the sort of person who 'tut-tuts' audibly at the merest rustle of a confectionary bag at the cinema. And I have a well-perfected Paddington Bear-esque stare for anyone with the appalling manners to talk while the ads are on. Gabbing through trailers… almost acceptable. Wittering through the ads… a definite no-no.

But maybe people natter over the ads because too few creative ideas fail to capture and hold their attention? If we can't grab people's minds for a few seconds, how are we ever going to change them? And if we can't do that, we'll never force a gentle revolution in behaviour, let alone drive advocacy.

So for this Ad Lib I've chosen three campaigns that go beyond mere attention-grabbing and involvement, and actually move towards that greatest of communications skills – that of capturing the fascination.

QUIT: Lungclock



QUIT: Lungclock

The Frontera Group

The first campaign is close to my heart. Quiting the tabs is horrendous. I cracked it 15 years ago, but it was a dark journey. I learned that people often need to be persuaded in different ways if they are to succeed. Which is why I love the Lung-Clock campaign which came out earlier this year. Through a simple app and website, smokers can work out how badly the evil weed has aged their lungs by calculating their actual lung age. A sobering prospect indeed, but powerful nonetheless. And, for me as a reformed smoker, utterly fascinating.

Medula: Make a Pledge



Medula: Make a Pledge

DDB Remedy

The second campaign for Medula (who make breast feeding pumps and the like) encourages new parents to make a pledge to their new kid. Through good old social media, they can share said pledge with the world. For doing so they get 20 per cent off Medula products. Fair trade I would say. I’m not exactly an expert in this field, but I would reckon that women don’t always bottle-feed through choice. So it’s a fascinating brand link where something as mechanical as this method of feeding can provide a way to cement the emotional relationship with a child. Nice work.

Scottish Government: Don’t Get Scared, Get Checked



Scottish Government: Don’t Get Scared, Get Checked


Finally, one from my homeland. Scotland has seen many excellent health campaigns in recent years, but this one for breast cancer screening captivated me by being brave when it could have been overly cavalier. It’s screened post-watershed because it features famous people of Scotland holding images of symptomatic breasts and urging women to get screened regularly. The delivery is honest, persuasive and human. 

It would have been too easy to have done the same-old-same-old. But real, passionate campaigns like this may just open the door to even more involving and engaging healthcare communications in Scotland. And what might come next is what’s truly fascinating about it.

Article by
Patrick Norrie

executive creative director worldwide, Grey Healthcare Group

30th November 2012


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