Please login to the form below

Not currently logged in

Ad Lib blog

Creative critiques of pharma and healthcare ads and campaigns

Painful Ads

Chris Duncan feels like spiking two of the three campaigns he’s chosen to review. Harsh or fair?

The standard of execution on some ads still astonishes (and pains) me. These ads need to be put on death row for their crimes against art direction and copy writing. I feel like putting spikes into my eyes to avoid them.

So there may be more than just a few barbed comments to follow.

I know it seems harsh, and I understand that there are a lot of obstacles an ad has to overcome on its journey to production, but I feel there are certain levels of art direction and copy that should hold no matter what.

OK, so not all ads can be award winners, but you should still want them in your portfolio.

Palexia - Grünenthal



Palexia - Grunenthal

The entry-level thinking in this ad leaves me cold, it is insipid looking and just doesn’t make it. It is easily missed in a crowd.
Thoughtless typography, blandly art directed with poor Photoshop work on the key… and that’s without mentioning the pun-ish headline.

They have tried to make something out of an overused concept of ‘unlocking’ and then showing a key. I wonder how many seconds it took to come up with that. And call me a traditionalist, but I do like to see the logo underneath the ad.

Not sure this is one for the portfolio.

Zostravax – Sanofi Pasteur MSD



Zostravax – Sanofi Pasteur MSD

Please, where are those spikes…?! How was this ad put together? Did they get all the elements and toss them in the air and see where they fell.

The ad has no flow; I don’t know where to look. The typography is heavy handed, the design too busy. I know it is a factual ad, but the messages and image are all jostling with each other to be seen.

The shot has transparently been comped and poorly Photoshopped with the barbed wire. The main character doesn’t even look real.

Don’t think the creative team should be proud of this one.

Rectogesic – ProStraken



Rectogesic – ProStraken

Barbed wire again in this ad, representing the feeling of pain, but this time it has been more skilfully put together on the toilet role in Photoshop.

The ad simply communicates discomfort, even if you strip out the headline.

This is not the best ad in the world but it delivers it message to the audience clearly and directly.

Article by
Chris Duncan

creative director, Pulsar Healthcare

14th March 2012


Featured jobs

Subscribe to our email news alerts


Add my company
Solaris Health

The beauty of detail: an effective, compelling medical communications campaign requires each component to be carefully planned, expertly crafted and...

Latest intelligence

figure 1
The valuable brand
Creating value beyond the pill is both possible and increasingly necessary...
The rise of real-world evidence
Demonstrating efficacy and value requires more than clinical trial data...
Digital health
The untapped potential to transform healthcare...