Please login to the form below

Not currently logged in

Ad Lib blog

Creative critiques of pharma and healthcare ads and campaigns

Picture this: Photography and pharma advertising

Kevin Stokes flags up three campaigns that provide a perfect union of “mad creative, cool photography, and crazy CGI skills” 

Advertising photography has become inseparable from digital manipulation. 

This statement is by no means meant to diminish the importance of the skills of a professional photographer. I'm simply stating that 99.9 per cent of advertising photography will at some point be manipulated or changed from the original pixels captured by the camera's sensor. 

It's just the nature of the creative business. Every photographer accepts that his or her images will be colour corrected, cropped, composited, CMYK converted, or 'digitally enhanced' in some way. Particularly in the case of more complex visual ideas, photography may only be a small part of a larger digital composition image or computer generated image (CGI). 

As a creative director (and photography enthusiast), I appreciate the subtleties of lighting, composition, exposure, and speed settings—all building blocks of a good photograph. But, sometimes you just can't capture in camera that wacky idea that you have in your head—Wacom pen-wielding digital artist to the rescue! 

You want a saw blade to burst out of the spine of a cancer pain sufferer? No problem. Can you merge human limbs together? Simple enough. Anything you can imagine can be brought to life. 

Armed with the joint skills of a well-chosen and highly gifted photographer and a masterful digital artist, advertising creatives are capable of producing communications that elicit dramatic visceral reactions, tell the brand story in fresh and intriguing ways, and begin to reshape our expectations of what we can do in pharma marketing. 

A word of caution: overuse of these weapons can have the opposite effect as well, producing a confusing, over-busy execution that clouds the communication. 
I have chosen three examples of what I consider to represent the perfect union of mad creative, cool photography, and crazy CGI skills. Enjoy.

Nycomed: Breakthrough Cancer Pain



Nycomed: Breakthrough Cancer Pain

This is an excellent example of combining photography and digital manipulation to create a visceral retina-jarring piece that communicates pain, plain and simple. This idea could have backfired and just ended up as a horror show, but skillful art direction has kept it tasteful without losing the impact.

Children’s Panadol: Their pain is your pain



Children’s Panadol: Their pain is your pain

This ad works well on a couple of levels: (1) It taps directly into the psyche by exploiting the parental instinct to protect and nurture her offspring. (2) With subtle and clever use of digital manipulation, their pain becomes one shared experience by merging hands and mirroring expressions. Clever, simple, and effective. 

Sargam: For better digestion



Sargam: For better digestion

I’ve included this ad not because it showcases an incredible feat of digital wizardry, but because it’s a perfect example of less is more. Take one beautiful female model with a digestive problem and add strategically placed bubbles to create a hilarious, but effective message in a classic problem/solution ad. Excuse me.

Article by
Kevin Stokes

VP creative director of art, Kane & Finkel Healthcare Communications

5th October 2012


COVID-19 Updates and Daily News

Featured jobs


Add my company
Creative Medical Research

Specialising in medical device market research and participant recruitment human factors research, our approach is people-centric. We thrive on making...

Latest intelligence

Patient-centricity in improving patient recruitment advertising
This blog looks into the importance of concepts and patient centricity in patient recruitment....
AI and life sciences
AI: the smart money is on the smart thinking
Looking at the three key areas where AI is being applied: drug discovery, clinical decision-making and clinical trials...
Virtual Engagement At Porterhouse: Reflections on the past few months
A look at how the pitfalls of virtual engagement can be avoided and the key advantages of virtual client and KOL engagement strategies in a now predominantly digital world....